Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nathaniel Rich

Nathaniel Rich's new novel is Odds Against Tomorrow.

From his Q & A with Noah Charney at The Daily Beast:

Your new novel, Odds Against Tomorrow, involves probability and mathematics as a driver for the plot. How did you choose that plot mechanism?

“Numbers people” turn to math for the same reasons that readers turn to literature or poetry: for consolation, beauty, mystery, and affirmation. I wanted to write about a character who uses math to make sense of the world around him. Numbers, like words, have their limitations, however, and that was to be part of the story as well.

Also, I wanted to know: what are the odds, exactly, that an asteroid will hit the planet and usher in a global dark age? That a suicide bomber will detonate himself in the middle of Fifth Avenue? That a catastrophic hurricane will bring about the flooding of Manhattan? In order to get to the bottom of these questions you need statistics and some basic calculus. Fiction allows you to follow principles to their most extreme conclusions, so I felt it was important in the novel to pursue math as one of several possible paths to enlightenment.

Describe your routine when conceiving of a book and its plot, before the writing begins. Do you like to map out your books ahead of time, or just let it flow?

I map them out rigorously, but it’s only a matter of time before I veer off the map. So by the end of the novel, when I look back at the outline, it’s as if I’m looking at the map of ...[read on]
Visit Nathaniel Rich's website.

Writers Read: Nathaniel Rich (March 2008).

--Marshal Zeringue