Big city writers Garth Risk Hallberg, Russell Smith and Steve Toltz discuss their latest works and how the places they live influence the stories they tell. The National Post‘s Books Editor, Emily M. Keeler, moderates.
Garth Risk Hallberg’s stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Slate, The Times and Best New American Voices 2008. His illustrated novella, A Field Guide to the North American Family, was nominated for the Believer Book Award. He completed his MFA from NYU and lives in New York with his wife and children. Hallberg presents his big-hearted, boundary-vaulting debut novel, City on Fire, which explores 1970s New York and the lives changed by the city’s infamous blackout of July 13, 1977.
Emily M. Keeler is the Vice President of PEN Canada. In 2012, she founded Little Brother, an award winning literary magazine featuring the best of a new generation of writing and art. Formerly the books editor of the National Post, Emily is now the series editor for Exploded Views, a chewy and contentious line of short and smart nonfiction books from Coach House Books. Her writing has appeared in the LA Times, Toronto Life, Maisonneuve, The Globe and Mail, and The Guardian.
Russell Smith is one of Canada’s funniest and nastiest writers. His previous novels, including How Insensitive and Girl Crazy, are records of urban frenzy and exciting underworlds. He writes a provocative weekly column on the arts in The Globe and Mail and teaches in the MFA programme at the University of Guelph. Smith presents his latest collection of short stories, Confidence, which was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. It shows a darker side of urban dwellers, including mommy bloggers, PhD students and experimental filmmakers.
Steve Toltz's first novel, A Fraction of the Whole, was released in 2008 to widespread critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and The Guardian First Book Award. Prior to his literary career, he lived in Montreal, Vancouver, New York, Barcelona and Paris, variously working as a cameraman, telemarketer, security guard, private investigator, English teacher and screenwriter. Born in Sydney, he currently lives in New York. Toltz presents his second novel, Quicksand, a fearlessly finny, outrageously inventive dark comedy about two lifelong friends.