Jennifer duBois is the author of A Partial History of Lost Causes. Her new novel, Cartwheel, "is a suspenseful and haunting novel of an American foreign exchange student arrested for murder, and a father trying to hold his family together."
From the author's Q & A with Emma Chastain at The Barnes & Noble Book Blog:
Did you study abroad in college? If so, where, and what was your experience like?Visit the official Jennifer duBois website.
I did—I spent a semester in Prague and a summer in France. My experience in Prague, in particular, was life-changing and rapturous in some of the same ways Lily’s experience in Buenos Aires is for her. I was genuinely enchanted by the city and the country I was in, but a good deal of what made the time so meaningful was probably just about being on an independent foreign adventure for the very first time; I think the reason study abroad students often fall so hard for the places they travel is that those places wind up serving as proxies for the whole enormous world, which suddenly feels available in a new way—or it did for me, at least. I realized that if I could scrape together enough money for a ticket, I could just get on a plane and go somewhere new—which I then did, as often as I could, and sometimes alone. Some of the pretensions and reactions I had when I was studying abroad in college were as predictable and silly as Lily’s, but that time’s effect on my life was profound: the world has been bigger for me ever since. I liked the idea of exploring Lily’s newfound sense of freedom and independence and possibility immediately before she is imprisoned and that sense necessarily slams shut.
Did you spend time in Buenos Aires as you researched this novel?
I went to Buenos Aires as I was first starting the novel. I wasn’t initially wedded to any particular city or country for the setting—unlike with my first book, where Russia is basically its own character. But I was looking for a Catholic country where an American student might study abroad, with a legal system she might presume is similar to our own but is different in some key respects, and where she might know enough of the language to not quite realize how much she doesn’t know. Buenos Aires fit that basic template. And then as I got deeper into the book...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: A Partial History of Lost Causes.
My Book, The Movie: A Partial History of Lost Causes.