Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Erica Wagner

Erica Wagner is the author of Gravity: Stories; Ariel's Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and the Story of Birthday Letters; and Seizure: A Novel. Pas de Deux/A Concert of Stories, co-written with storyteller Abbi Patrix and musician and composer Linda Edsjö, tours around the world. Twice a judge of the Man Booker Prize, she was literary editor of The Times (London) for seventeen years, and she is now a contributing writer for New Statesman and consulting literary editor for Harper's Bazaar, as well as writing for many publications in Britain and the United States.

Wagner's new book is Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, The Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
Neel Mukherjee's last novel, The Lives of Others, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize when it was published in 2014; I've just been reading A State of Freedom, his new book which will be published in July. Certainly it's a novel, but it reads too like a series of human stories whose deep connections only become clear when you turn the very last page of the book. Mukherjee builds a portrait of modern India through many layers of society: he has a fine ability to enter the minds and hearts of his characters, whoever they are and wherever they come from. It's a work of striking empathy and horrifying violence. And then a few days ago I found myself in my favourite bookshop in the world -- Shakespeare & Company, in the shadow of Notre Dame in Paris. It's a place to start reading those books you always meant to start but never quite got around to: and so I bought a copy of Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. I'd watched the first series of the television adaptation and wanted to like it more than I did: so I figured I'd better finally go back to the source. I'm glad I did; I'm gripped by the novel's strangeness, its fragmentary structure, its frightening portrait of capitulation and intimidation. "There is evil! It's actual, like cement." It surely is.
Visit Erica Wagner's website.

--Marshal Zeringue