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Josh Barkan and Jennifer Haigh to Discuss Their Writing
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Sunday, May 7, 2023
 

BY MARTHA WILLIAMS

The Community Library will welcome acclaimed writers Jennifer Haigh and Josh Barkan from their home in Boston to the Writer-In-Residence program at the historic Hemingway House this month. The program invites writers and artists throughout the year to the home’s residency apartment in Ketchum, where they are supported by the library and offered time and space for creative projects.

“We were connected with Jennifer and Josh through our friend Mary Pauline Lowry, who teaches at BSU and was in residence with us in 2020,” says Martha Williams, the library’s director of programs and education. “Jennifer was a presenter at the 2022 Treefort Festival in Boise, and we are thrilled to be connected with these incredible writers and to bring them to the Wood River Valley. Jennifer and Josh will spend a month in residency working on new projects, and while they’re here the community will also have several opportunities to engage with them.”

Barkan is the author of the novel Blind Speed and short story collections Before Hiroshima and Mexico (Hogarth/Penguin Random House)—named one of the five best story collections of 2017 by Library Journal. He has been awarded the Lightship International Short Story Prize and was runner-up for the Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, the Paterson Fiction Prize, and the Juniper Prize for Fiction. Barkan is also the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and his writing has appeared in Esquire. He has taught creative writing at Harvard, NYU, the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, Hollins University and MIT.

On Thursday, May 11 at 6:00 p.m., Barkan will join Martha Williams at the library for a conversation about his upcoming memoir Wonder Travels, which will be released September 12 by Roundabout Press. The memoir examines the question: Can we ever really know another person?

When, after fifteen years of marriage, his wife has an affair with a man she meets on the beach in Morocco, writer Josh Barkan grapples with this question. In this fearless, breathtakingly candid memoir, he maps a painful odyssey from New York to El Paso to the Apache Kid Wilderness to Mexico City, where he falls in love with a painter who begins to heal him.

But two years after his wife’s affair, questions still haunt him. Why did she betray him, and with whom? With no more than a cell phone number, Barkan travels to Morocco to find his wife's lover and confront his own past.

Writer Andre Dubus III has hailed the book as a “compulsively readable memoir … a profound meditation on the inherent fragility of marriage, on what it means to love well and to be loved in return, on the elusiveness of forgiveness, but ultimately on spiritual resilience and wandering’s potential ability to truly heal.”

Jennifer Haigh is the author of the short story collection News From Heaven and six critically acclaimed novels, including Mrs. Kimble, Faith and Heat and Light, named a Best Book of 2016 by The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and NPR.

Her books have won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction, the Massachusetts Book Award, the PEN New England Award in Fiction and a literature award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has been awarded fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts, the James Michener Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Her books have been translated into eighteen languages. Her latest novel, Mercy Street – set at an abortion clinic in Boston and called “extraordinary” by The New York Times Book Review – was published in 2022.

On Friday, May 26 at 5:00 p.m., Haigh will participate in an in-person and virtual event on the new book One True Sentence: Writers and Readers on Hemingway’s Art, to which she is a contributor. The book, released last July, was inspired by the Hemingway quote from A Moveable Feast: “All you have to do is write one true sentence.”

Editors Mark Cirino and Michael Von Cannon, host and producer of One True Podcast, began with this sentence, then asked esteemed writers and readers to share and examine their favorite Hemingway sentence. The result is a conversation between Hemingway and some of his most perceptive and interesting readers.

Jennifer will be in-person at The Community Library, and the library audience will be connected via Zoom with bestselling author and fellow One True Sentence contributor Andre Dubus III (House of Sand and Fog) and the book’s co-editor, Mark Cirino, who will both be in person at Porter Square Books in Boston, to discuss the book and its examination of how a single sentence can make a good story come alive and become a great story. Presented in partnership with Porter Square Books, Godine (publisher of One True Sentence), and Grub Street Creative Writing Center in Boston.

Registration is recommended to save your seat for both events, and both events will be available to watch virtually. Visit www.comlib.org to register to attend in person and for links to watch from home. Book signings with local bookstores will follow each event.

 

 


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