Thursday, August 11, 2016

What is Lara Vapnyar reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Lara Vapnyar, author of Still Here.

Her entry begins:
I recently reread Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, marveling at how modern it felt. It was written more than two hundred years ago! Some books just don’t get old. The novel is enjoyable on every level, but this time I had a special pleasure reading it from the perspective of a writer and a teacher of writing. Since this is one of Austen’s earlier work, it’s easier to see how she was shaping her method. One of her signature tools is to let her most idiotic or obnoxious characters (like Steele sisters or Robert Ferrars) talk forever with little or no reaction from the other characters so that we, readers, find ourselves right there in the scene and this unbearable character is addressing us directly, and we can’t escape his or hers obnoxiousness and start identifying with the main characters in a very powerful way.

Another signature Austen tool is her ability to...[read on]
About Still Here, from the publisher:
A profound and dazzlingly entertaining novel from the writer Louis Menand calls “Jane Austen with a Russian soul”

In her warm, absorbing and keenly observed new novel, Lara Vapnyar follows the intertwined lives of four immigrants in New York City as they grapple with love and tumult, the challenges of a new home, and the absurdities of the digital age.

Vica, Vadik, Sergey and Regina met in Russia in their school days, but remained in touch and now have very different American lives. Sergey cycles through jobs as an analyst, hoping his idea for an app will finally bring him success. His wife Vica, a medical technician struggling to keep her family afloat, hungers for a better life. Sergey’s former girlfriend Regina, once a famous translator is married to a wealthy startup owner, spends her days at home grieving over a recent loss. Sergey’s best friend Vadik, a programmer ever in search of perfection, keeps trying on different women and different neighborhoods, all while pining for the one who got away.

As Sergey develops his app—calling it “Virtual Grave,” a program to preserve a person’s online presence after death—a formidable debate begins in the group, spurring questions about the changing perception of death in the modern world and the future of our virtual selves. How do our online personas define us in our daily lives, and what will they say about us when we’re gone?
Visit Lara Vapnyar's Facebook page.

Writers Read: Lara Vapnyar.

--Marshal Zeringue