Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Jennifer Egan

author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, The Los Angeles Times Book Award and National Book Circle Critics Award

Ten Terrifying Questions

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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Chicago, Illinois. My father was proudly Irish-American, the son of a policeman, and my mother grew up in nearby Rockford, Illinois. My parents divorced when I was two, and when I was seven, I moved with my mother, stepfather and younger brother to San Francisco. We arrived in 1969, at the height of the 60’s counterculture, although my mother and stepfather had no involvement with it. I came of age in the Continue reading

Winner of The 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

The U.S.A. digs this book…

Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Which is for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life…

Winner of the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

One of the New York Times Book Review‘s Top 10 Books of 2010

One of the Best Books of the Year: Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR’s On Point, O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, and Village Voice

Book Description: Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her longstanding compulsion to steal.

Click here to buy A Visit from the Goon Squad

Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life – divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed up band in the basement of a suburban house – and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco’s punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang – who thrived and who faltered – and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie’s catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou’s far flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall.

A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to Powerpoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both – and escape the merciless progress of time – in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.

About The Author

Jennifer Egan is the author of The Invisible Circus and the story collection Emerald City. Her stories have been published in such magazines as The New Yorker, Harper’s, GQ, Zoetrope, and Ploughshares, and her nonfiction appears frequently in The New York Times Magazine. Egan lives with her husband and son in Brooklyn.

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