News & Events

Do you need some advice on finding an agent or applying for an MFA?

I’m flattered that in the past few months I’ve been inundated with requests for advice about such topics as finding an agent or publisher and when/why/how to apply for an MFA. The advice section of this website features concise, practical thinking on these topics. (And can tell you how—and how not—to request a letter of reference.) I hope it can be of service to my students, former students, readers, and friends. If there’s a topic I haven’t yet addressed that you’d like to see an article on, please message me on my Facebook page. I’ll try to get a response up quickly!

A hypothetical prize for BROOKLAND

Many thanks to Erica Wagner, who chose to write about Brookland in this article for the Folio Prize’s website about books that people would have liked to see win the prize. What a kind mention—it’s an honor to be a hypothetical Folio Prize winner!

Hello, Smith

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve been named the Elizabeth Drew Professor at Smith College from 2013 to 2015. This is a real honor—Prof. Drew served as Sylvia Plath’s thesis adviser, and the chair has been held by some remarkable writers in the past. (My favorite? Kurt Vonnegut.) So, hello Pioneer Valley. I’ll look forward to seeing you this fall.

YVES GUNDRON is an eBook!

The Testament of Yves Gundron is at long last available as an eBook! So if you haven’t yet read it and would like to do so on your Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or iPad, it’s waiting for you at or via the iBooks app on your iPad or iPhone. You can also still get it in paperback, if you prefer to do your reading the old-fashioned way. Would it be ironic to read this novel about the complexities of blindly pursuing progress on a snazzy piece of technology? Maybe. But I’d like to think that the widespread adoption of these miraculous gadgets makes this book more relevant than ever. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

A few people have asked if Brookland is also available as an eBook. Mais bien sûr! This link will get you to the Kindle edition, and you can also download it via iBooks for your Apple device. Thanks for asking!

A Dialogue with Susan Bernofsky in PEN America

In the current issue of PEN America (#16: Teachers), director of Columbia’s MFA in Translation Susan Bernofsky and I have a dialogue about our practices as teachers of undergraduate and graduate students, and the lessons we bring to the classroom from our own teachers. (Michael Martone, are you reading this?) Although I’m erroneously identified as teaching at Columbia (which is not true this year), I’m proud to be part of the issue and pleased with how the piece and the issue as a whole turned out. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it! (As a side note: Check out the Bill-Clinton-lookalike Vassar undergrad, c. 1958, on the cover!)

Because I Love the Social Contract

I am really proud that my essay, Reason #40: Because I Love the Social Contract, is part of 90 Days, 90 Reasons.

If anyone has come to my site for the first time after reading that essay, welcome; I’m delighted you’re here and glad to meet you. Come say hello on my Facebook page!

And L’shana tovah u’metukah to everyone!

An Interview with Literary Mama’s Caroline Grant

Caroline Grant, the editor in chief of Literary Mama, recently interviewed me for their blog. Topics include lessons I pass on to my students from my high school teachers (Bob Pridham and Cornelia Reid, are you reading this?), the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me in a Latin class, and stuff I’d like to invent if I could be an inventor. If you’re interested, you can read it here.

More Publishing Advice

I just uploaded three new posts to the Publishing Advice section of my Advice page: one on when you should start looking for an agent (and, concomitantly, on how you know your book is done in the first place), one on how to know when the story you’re working on is ready to send out, and a third on how to respond if an agent contacts you. I hope these will prove helpful!

Do you have a topic you’d like to propose for this section? Please post it on my Facebook page.

Courses this Academic Year

Just a quick note to let my students at Yale know that, in addition to teaching my upper-level fiction workshop this coming spring, I’ll be teaching an introductory workshop in the fall. If you know beginning fiction writers—or people who might like to give fiction a try, though they haven’t done so yet—please send them my way. Please also be in touch if you’re a current Yale undergrad interested in working on an independent study. This could be a fiction writing project or a program of individual literary study that’s of interest to us both. I’m all ears!

I’d also like to let my NYU graduate students know that I’ll be teaching my craft seminar on plot construction again this fall. This will feature the same wild reading list as last year (anyone for Sesshu Foster, Percival Everett, Jenny Erpenbeck, and Thomas Bernhard?), and I’m looking forward to it. If you have peers who might be interested (and this would include people who think they’re not at all interested in plot: I will win them over), please do send them along.

Pedicure video, anyone?

There is a video of my reading with Paul La Farge at apexart on May 17th! This video is more than sixteen minutes long, which is actually very long in the Internet age, but it has a few features to recommend it: 1) We are soaking our feet in a bowl of water and bath salts while we read, and 2) Paul’s piece is hilarious. You could just kind of fast-forward over my reading and listen to his if feeling pressed for time. Enjoy!

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