Category Archives: Interviews

Already Intertwined: Talking to Daniel Borzutzky and Brenda Lozano About Lit & Luz

By Andy Fitch

This conversation focuses on Nightboat author Daniel Borzutzky’s work with novelist Brenda Lozano on organizing the 2017 Lit & Luz Festival of Language, Literature, and Art. Held each fall in the U.S. and each winter in Mexico, Lit & Luz offers a unique series of readings, conversations, performances, and multimedia presentations featuring renowned authors and visual artists from Chicago and Mexico City. From October 17th to 21st, more than a dozen Lit & Luz events will take place in Chicago galleries, college auditoriums, classrooms, bookstores, and museums. The festival will conclude with its “Live Magazine Extravaganza Show” finale at Co-Prosperity Sphere, featuring debut multimedia collaborations between the Mexico City-based and Chicago-based participants. This year’s festival theme of “Belonging” celebrates the richly diverse sustained interconnections of custom, community, and culture between Chicago and Mexico City. At the same time, “Belonging” poses questions about what it means to be excluded from a community, a city, and a nation.  Continue reading

Ghosts of Our Past: An Interview with Jesmyn Ward

By Louise McCune 

When Jojo and his family go to pick up his father Michael from Parchman Prison, they return home with an unlikely additional passenger. Richie — who can be seen only by Jojo and his toddler sister Kayla — is a ghost who has kept residence at Parchman for decades, haunting the site of his untimely death in an attempt to understand it. Richie was only a boy when he was incarcerated for spurious reasons, and he was only a boy when he was killed for trying to escape. Sing, Unburied, Sing, a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award, is a novel populated by living characters who contend daily with the consequences of state-sanctioned racial violence. Richie’s story intervenes in an otherwise 21st-century narrative to indicate that, when it comes to American racism, the past remains very much alive. Continue reading

Inextricably Interwoven: Talking to Brenda Iijima

By Andy Fitch

Amid a recent stretch of ominous, climate-change inflected environmental disasters, and amid an ongoing history of environmental imperialism intensifying the impact of such disasters upon communities of color, economically marginalized communities, and interspecies communities, it feels especially pertinent to return to Nightboat Books’s )((ECO (LANG) (UAGE (READER), edited by Brenda Iijima. Iijima’s public engagements occur at intersections of, and amid mutations of: poetry, animal studies, ecological sociology, histories of activism, and submerged social histories. She is the author of seven collections of poetry, and numerous chapbooks and artist’s books. Her most recent book, Remembering Animals, was published by Nightboat in 2016. Iijima is the editor of Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, located in Brooklyn. Continue reading

There’s a Theory I’ve Got Cooking: An Interview with John Rossiter of Young Jesus

By Sam Jaffe Goldstein 

Los Angeles-based alt-rock band Young Jesus has been through many iterations; it started as a high school band in the suburbs of Chicago, did a Red Bull-sponsored tour, went acoustic for an album, and then transformed into its current formation. A band of far-out sounds, 10-minute-plus songs that could be described as soundscapes, and live shows full of improvisation, Young Jesus resonates as both expansive and personal. Continue reading

“Maybe This Book is a Cemetery”: An Interview with Alistair McCartney

By Meghan Lamb

I was introduced to Alistair McCartney’s latest novel The Disintegrations (University of Wisconsin Press) through our mutual writer friend Mark Gluth, and from page one I was grateful for the recommendation. True to its tagline, The Disintegrations is indeed “a haunting, obsessive exploration of death” that fascinatingly collapses the space between author and narrator. Here was a voice both uncannily familiar and decidedly unlike any I’d read, its own breed of ethereal friendliness, foggy acuteness, and distant confessional. It was, above all, the voice of a writer who deeply intrigued me, whom I yearned to hear more from. Continue reading

Death, Humor, and Ron Currie

By Tiffany Hearsey

Author Ron Currie ponders many of life’s great mysteries. Speaking to me via video stream a day before his 42nd birthday, he reflected upon the perils of getting older, posing the oft neglected question regarding ear hair: “What the fuck biological function does that serve?” Bodily changes must be especially noticeable to an author who has spent a decade exploring the enigmas of death, grief, and existential crises. His latest book, The One-Eyed Man, is no exception; the main protagonist, who goes by the single Kafkaesque initial K., is grieving his wife’s untimely death. During the unfolding shock waves of grief, K. reads about Einstein’s theory of relativity, that time is merely an illusion. He no longer mourns his wife because he believes that she is not dead but absent, residing on a different plane of existence. This mental and emotional shift affects his relationship to the world around him. He soon adopts a literal-mindedness, never censoring his thoughts and seemingly chucking empathy out the window. Along his journey he encounters gun nuts, contends with the perils of grocery store marketing, and becomes a reality TV star. As in his previous work, Currie’s protagonist acts as our guide through mortal straits and as a vehicle for the author’s sardonic humor. Continue reading

We’ll Revise Our Views Along the Way: Talking to Emily Bazelon

By Andy Fitch

This conversation focuses on Emily Bazelon’s diversified professional practice, as well as her sustained commitment to constructive public dialogue. Bazelon, staff writer at the New York Times Magazine, co-host of the Slate Political Gabfest, Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale, author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy, co-founder of Slate’s DoubleX section, and former law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals’ 1st Circuit, is currently working on a book about prosecutors and prospects for criminal-justice reform. Continue reading

“Why Am I Like This?”: An Interview with Chelsea Martin

By Bryan Woods

There’s no writer like Chelsea Martin. Authors are often praised for their singular voices, and while Martin’s is certainly unique, it’s not just the way she tells a story, or which details she chooses to include or omit that makes her writing so distinctive, it’s the inner workings of her brain. She’s always been one of the funniest writers on my bookshelf, one who is able to write stories that are simultaneously hilarious and tragic, but her new essay collection Caca Dolce raises the stakes substantially. Continue reading

The Farhang Foundation 9th Annual Short Film Festival

By Orly Minazad

One of the perks of living in Los Angeles is the bottomless pit of cultural exploits and opportunities just an Uber ride away. At the forefront of some of those events is Farhang Foundation, the leading purveyor of Iranian cultural celebrations. Since 2008, the non-profit foundation has been championing Persian artists from all over the world and welcoming the community to indulge in the festivities. Continue reading