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Lidia Yuknavich in conversation with Lance Olsen
February 25, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PST
reading from their work and talking about literature
Lidia Yuknavich celebrates the paperback release of
published by Riverhead Books
Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Bustle and Lit Hub
A fiercely empathetic group portrait of the marginalized and outcast in moments of crisis, from one of the most galvanizing voices in American fiction
This is a virtual event that will be hosted by City Lights on the Zoom platform. You will need access to a computer or other device that is capable of accessing the internet. If you have not used Zoom before, you may consider referencing Getting Started with Zoom.
Event is free, but registration is required.
(Click Here) to register.
Lance Olsen will also be reading from his recently released novel
Set on a single day in 1927, My Red Heaven imagines a host of characters―some historic, some invented―crossing paths on the streets of Berlin.
The subjects include Robert Musil, Otto Dix, Werner Heisenberg, Anita Berber, Vladimir Nabokov, Käthe Kollwitz, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Rosa Luxemburg―as well as others history has forgotten: a sommelier, a murderer, a prostitute, a pickpocket, and several ghosts.
Drawing inspiration from Otto Freundlich’s painting by the same name, My Red Heaven explores a complex moment in history: the rise of deadly populism at a time when everything seemed possible and the future unimaginable. A terrific read for fans of Richard Powers’ The Overstory and Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin.
Lidia Yuknavitch is the nationally bestselling author of the novels The Book of Joan, The Small Backs of Children, and Dora: A Headcase, and of the memoir The Chronology of Water. She is the recipient of two Oregon Book Awards and has been a finalist for the Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize and the PEN Center USA Creative Nonfiction Award. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Lance Olsen is author of more than 25 books of and about innovative writing, including, most recently, the novel Dreamlives of Debris. His short stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, such as Conjunctions, Black Warrior Review, Fiction International, BOMB, McSweeney’s, and Best American Non-Required Reading. A Guggenheim, Berlin Prize, D.A.A.D. Artist-in-Berlin Residency, N.E.A. Fellowship, and Pushcart Prize recipient, as well as a Fulbright Scholar, he teaches experimental narrative theory and practice at the University of Utah, where he directs the creative writing program.
Praise for Verge:
“At several points while reading Verge, I found myself curled into a ball, my fingers gripping the pages so tightly they almost tore the paper. It was as if the words had crawled off the page and under my skin.” —Cornelia Channing, The Paris Review
“Full of suspense . . . Young or old, male or female, the characters in Verge will shock and impress themselves onto the reader.” —LitHub
“This book is a gem. . . . A brilliant collection of twenty stories that contain as much compassion as suffering . . . In Yuknavitch’s hands, words are both swords and feathers. . . . She writes with a sensibility that is both blunt and empathic, as if to open the reader’s heart and make it bleed.” —Ms. Magazine
“Diverse and impactful, unlike some collections, where only a few stories shine . . . Verge boldly asks some pressing yet unspoken questions, such as: How is it that Americans can say anything with a straight face? Does it hurt more to keep the secrets or tell them? It also forces us to acknowledge—and even embrace—the unsettling answers.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Dynamite. . . . I don’t know of any other writer who can render the brutality of life with such honesty and dazzle. . . . That Lidia Yuknavitch can create such beauty out of the tragedy of contemporary life is testament to her skill as an artist. Verge is volatile and vital, and it hits where it hurts, in the most oddly pleasurable way.” —Lambda Literary
“Lidia Yuknavitch displays the same gift for exploring the borderland between art, sex, and trauma that readers have come to expect . . . . [turning] her powers toward life on the margins.” —The Millions
“Yuknavitch writes with rare empathy about the repercussions of grief, loss and dislocation.” —Jane Ciabattari, BBC Culture
“Disturbing and delightful all at once.” —BookRiot
“With the publication of Verge, Yuknavitch’s writing flies into hyperspace. . . . [Verge is] an act of courage and urgency. The book is historically specific, yet ultimately timeless.” —The Brooklyn Rail
“Brilliant. . . . Consistently incisive, with sharp sentences and a barreling pace. . . . This riveting collection invites readers to see women whose points of view are typically ignored.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Insistently visceral . . . These howls from the throats of women, queer characters, the impoverished, and the addicted remind us of the beauty and pain of our shared humanity. Gutsy stories from one of our most fearless writers.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A vertiginous and revelatory book whose characters—sometimes in desperate situations, and sometimes, finally, in a place of safety—have much to say about the world that we live in now. Lidia Yuknavitch is astonishing.”
“Verge is a wonderful, challenging book. I know these people. I know their dilemmas, and where I don’t recognize them, I believe them. The passion Lidia Yuknavitch brings to the page is astounding. I am caught up, shaken up, and now and then simply delighted. ‘Listen to this,’ I call out to friends, and then, minutes later: ‘No, wait, listen to this!’”
Praise for My Red Heaven
―Kirkus Reviews“Inspired by German artist Otto Freundlich’s painting of the same title, this meditation on the effects of a specific moment in history and the human condition reaches past cultural barriers and time to create a narrative that pushes boundaries and reflects on what is means to dwell in the here and now.”
“Olsen employs a full suite of experimental techniques to tell the story, including newsreel headlines, screenplay excerpts, poetic verses, and ekphrastic reflections on unsettling scenes of bombed-out and abandoned buildings. But the real draw is Olsen’s supple, exacting prose, which captures the energy of cutting-edge art movements amid impending political uncertainty. There’s an eerie familiarity to the air of technological and social breakthroughs, with fallout or resolution just around the corner.”
“Olsen is a fine, clear stylist. … My Red Heaven captures the eeriness of a city on the brink of an epochal descent into barbarism.”
―Wall Street Journal
“Lance Olsen is as innovative as he is prolific and an irreplaceable figure in avant-garde fiction. … Told in vignettes that are formally daring, yet always musical and accessible, this is a powerful book in every respect and an important one for readers here in this country in 2020.”
―Robert Lopez for The Believer
―Shelley Jackson, author of Riddance, Half Life, and The Melancholy of Anatomy“Lance Olsen locates his porous, alluring, heartbreaking, and haunted narrative in Berlin on a day in 1927. Poised at a moment of such hope and doom, it is a ravishing meditation on history, on time, and on what is it to be alive.”
―Carole Maso, author of Ava and The Art Lover
“In this twenty-four-hour novel, Olsen explores new subjectivities and new histories both after and before the moments directly written about. It’s fascinating and wonderfully readable. Kafka, Nabokov, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe all make their appearances…and strange lists of newsworthy events cascade down before us now and again. It’s a fitting follow-up to Calendar of Regrets and beautifully written.
―Samuel R. Delany, author of Dhalgrenand Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders
“The moment in which you awaken is on fire. You are alive or the other thing, falling to scorched earth or ascending to the rooftops of Berlin, a radiantly red heaven. You feel yourself besieged, swirling inside one startling sensibility and then another, deliriums of joy pierced by devastations of loss and sorrow. Sparked by the exuberant energy of his own multivalent perception, ignited by the brilliance of his wildly playful imagination and unfathomably expansive compassion, Lance Olsen has translated My Red Heaven, Otto Freundlich’s abstract cubist painting, into a novel full of dissonant shocks and thrilling confusions, a library of loss revealing the perilous ecstasies of life in Berlin between the wars. Layer by layer, he unpeels a palimpsest of paint, turning his fiercely attentive, unbounded love to every being in every moment, exposing infinite unknown dimensions, delivering us to exhilaration and terror as we watch the future and the past irradiate our present moment.”
―Melanie Rae Thon, author of The Voice of the River, Silence & Song “Where to stand in this original novel as History that unspeakably painfully hurts while montaging all our astonishing, poignant, and gross ironies. Between lives, even our own, that are less here than nearby or elsewhere; between Dietrich and Heisenberg; between, on one hand (literally), Arendt and Heidegger showering and thinking about thinking, and deaths there perhaps are no words for; between what is actually, terribly being evoked and, dissolve after dissolve, an exquisite narrative prose risking again and again an incorrigible lightness. At random, I thought of Wittgenstein in Duffy’s The World as I Found It; dictatorship in Spufford’s Red Plenty; the sculptural work of Joseph Beuys; and, where fact seems all the more fact in a context of fictive documentation, the great Sebald.”
―Joseph McElroy, author of Women and Men and Cannonball