Monday, March 18, 2019

Katia Lief (aka Karen Ellis)

Karen Ellis is a pseudonym of author Katia Lief. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and The Authors Guild. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, NY.

Her new novel is Last Night.

Recently I asked Lief about what she was reading. Her reply:
When I realized that I’d never read Shirley Jackson’s seminal story “The Lottery,” I got a copy of the collection The Lottery and Other Stories. Because this story has been embedded in the literary zeitgeist since it was first published in 1948, I forgave myself for thinking I’d read it—I had seen a short film based on it, so I knew the essentials of the story—but now I craved the experience of reading it in the author’s own words.

I turned to the table of contents, found the titular story at the very end, and started reading. It was short, clear, clean—and powerful. Spoiler alert: A housewife in a small town waits with her neighbors in an annual rite in which someone is randomly selected as a sacrifice believed to bring farming luck. When to her horror her name is chosen, her friends and neighbors gather round and stone her to death.

Jackson’s tour de force in “The Lottery” was showing the shattering effects of rote social custom and thought on the individual. It’s a theme that she revisited in many of the collection’s other stories, and that feels eerily relevant today.

Next up on my TBR pile is Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin. I’m so curious to learn about the woman behind all that dark brilliance.
Visit Katia Lief/Karen Ellis's website.

The Page 69 Test: Last Night.

--Marshal Zeringue