We launch the 2013 Spring Edition with international voices whose acclaimed novels examine our need for truth, and the many ways fiction employs lies to achieve honesty. These unforgettable novels are profoundly original, offering insight and intrigue in equal measure.
Rich with anthropological and literary allusion, Funeral for A Dog, the prize-winning debut by Germany’s Thomas Pletzinger tells the parallel stories of two writers struggling with the burden of the past and the uncertainties of the future. Journalist Daniel Mandelkern is assigned to interview Dirk Svensson, a reclusive children's book author who lives alone with his three-legged dog. Mandelkern has been quarreling with his wife (who is also his editor); he suspects she has other reasons for sending him away. After stumbling on a manuscript of Svensson's about a complicated menage a trois, Mandelkern is plunged into mysteries past and present.
The protagonist of Ron Currie, Jr. ’s new novel, Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, has a problem—or rather, several of them. He’s a writer whose latest book was destroyed in a fire. He’s mourning the death of his father, and has been in love with the same woman since grade school, a woman whose beauty and allure is matched only by her talent for eluding him. Worst of all, he’s not even his own man, but rather an amalgam of fact and fiction from Ron Currie’s own life. When Currie the character exiles himself to a small Caribbean island to write a new book about the woman he loves, he eventually decides to fake his death, which turns out to be the best career move he’s ever made. But fame and fortune come with a price.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, an award-winning author, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest, is deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth. In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.
Special thanks to the U.S. Department of State and the Embassy of the United States in Canada for supporting the participation of American writers during the Spring Edition.