The new and established powerhouse women novelists from across the pond: Penelope Lively, Jane Gardam, Kate Atkinson, Joanna Trollope, Anne Enright, O'Brien (in small doses) My goal this summer is to get as much Jane Austen down as possible.
And here's a group I rarely read (thanks to Jonathon Franzen): American men: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter - the last time I was this entertained was in 2011 reading The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt, or The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson. Beautiful Ruins is journey through time from present day L.A. to Italy of the sixties, where we meet a star-struck young hotelier, a smarmy film producer, and Richard Burton at his worst. Audacious and seamlessy wrought, the prose in Beautiful Ruins is perfectly seasoned with irony and sweet with subtle humor. A feast.
Lately I'm discovering more Canadian writers, starting with long lists of the Scotia Bank Giller prize, and the Governor General's Award winners - loving Cathy Marie Buchanen, The Day The Falls Stood Still and The Painted Girls.
VACATIONLAND is out! Stories that link a range of characters over a span of decades to the same remote resort near the Canadian border. Reviews are awesome and the promo has been a blast - a polka party book launch with several readers and beer coasters! It's now out on Audible. Works in progress: American River and a Canadian novel set in the Alberta dustbowl, Severance . PLUS, behind my back, Ava Finch, my nom de plume is hard at work on Fishing With RayAnne - take a look at avafinch.com
My memoir, SHELTER, came out to great responses from reveiwers and readers. The setting was inspired by a corner of far Northern Minnesota where our family name is fading from local memory, and where I imagined it would be 'interesting' to take on the wilderness and woodticks to build a cabin for myself and my son, who never got to know his grandfather, born and raised just a few miles away. Today there is a road, two tiny cabins, an outhouse. With no electricity or water, it's quite authentic, but as a highway threatens to blast through our land, it may be not be our haven for long.
I've been very lucky to have been a writer-in-residence at a number of programs here and abroad, The Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland was most interesting and inspiring. I was a Drue Heinz Fellow at Hawthornden Castle, Scotland, where I began pulling together essays for SHELTER and stories for VACATIONLAND (see Excerpt) When possible I attend literary seminars and conferences, most recently the San Miguel Allende Literary Festival, where I met amazing Canadians like Maragaret Atwood and Merilyn Simonds, as well as rising stars like Colleen Freisen and Catherine Simmons Niven. In Aspen at the Irish Writers' Festival, I moderated discussions in panels featuring Edna O'Brien, Jamie O'Neill, Colum McCann, Nuala O'Faolin (sadly no longer with us) and others.
Sarah moderating a discussion at the Aspen Irish Writers' festival, here with Edna O'Brien, Colum McCann, Jamie O'Neill, and Nuala O'Faolin.
Has been awarded a number of grants, including a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship and a Loft McKnight Fellowship. Her first novel, THESE GRANITE ISLANDS was translated to eight languages and was short-listed for France's prestigious Grand Prix de lectrices d'Elle. Her second novel THE ICE CHORUS been re-issued in paperback by ALMA BOOKS of England, distributing it in English language markets wordwide.