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Podcast from Eat, Drink & Be Literary:
Dinner and a Reading in BAMcafé

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Recorded on Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 6:30pm
Time: 53 minutes 43 seconds
43.1 MB
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What you will hear:
A unique series for sophisticated writers, readers, and eaters, Eat, Drink & Be Literary continues the momentum of the past two sell-out series, bringing major contemporary authors to BAMcafé for intimate dinners, readings, and discussions that are always entertaining and engaging.

There is a brief introduction by Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards. Jonathan Franzen then reads from his autobiography The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History, an interview follows by moderator Brigid Hughes. Franzen talks candidly about his life as a writer, the difficulty of writing fiction post-9/11 and the difference between being a Hollywood celebrity and a "famous" writer. And yes, during the audience Q&A Franzen talks about what happened when The Corrections was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her book club.

Photo: Greg Martin
Photo: Tobias Everke
The featured author and moderator is:

Jonathan Franzen

"Franzen is a writer with old-fashioned virtues: he loves witty wordplay; his command of detail in an enormous range of interests is unassailable; he has a painter's eye for depth and contrast; and he creates characters whose emotions reach us even when they are hidden from the people feeling them."

"I think of art in general, and certainly of a novel, as being about various familiar forms and rituals. There's nothing really new to say about the human condition, and so every novel is kind of a ritual reenactment, or retelling, of familiar stories, which proceed along expected but somehow satisfying lines."

Jonathan Franzen is the author of three novels, including The Corrections, which won the National Book Award; a collection of essays (How to Be Alone); and an autobiography (The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History). Franzen lives in New York City and Boulder Creek, California.

Brigid Hughes, moderator

Brigid Hughes is the founding editor of A Public Space, a journal of literature and culture based in Brooklyn. She worked at The Paris Review for many years, succeeding George Plimpton as editor in 2003; she left the magazine in 2005. The debut issue of A Public Space was published in March 2006.

Books discussed during the event include:

Two reading suggestions for what Franzen calls
“life-changing, good books.”

Independent People,
by Halldor Laxness
A Personal Matter,
by Kenzaburo Oe

Recently overlooked books Franzen thinks you should read:

Theft, by Peter Carey The City is a Rising Tide,
by Rebecca Lee
In Persuasion Nation,
by George Saunders

More information about A Public Space can be found on their website at

Eat, Drink & Be Literary is sponsored by Bloomberg.

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