Friday, July 25, 2014

Josh Weil

Josh Weil was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his debut collection, The New Valley. A National Book Award "Five Under Thirty-Five" author, he has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, Columbia University, the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, and Sewanee. His fiction has appeared in Granta, Esquire, One Story, and Agni.

Weil's debut novel is The Great Glass Sea. From his Q & A with Matt Bell at The Brooklyn Rail:

Matt Bell (Rail): The Great Glass Sea takes place in an alternate-present Russia, where the titular sea of glass—called the Oranzheria—has been built over a large expanse of farmable land, then lit by space mirrors to create an unending source of daylight. Twin brothers Yarik and Dima work this enormous greenhouse in alternating shifts, and as the novel opens they each inhabit a different half of this perpetual day. There’s so much impressive worldbuilding in the novel, and it seems like the book can take very little for granted: The reader has to be introduced to the Oranzheria and the way that it’s changed the course of your Russia, but they also have to be led through the historical events that have led to this moment, events that at a certain point broke from whatever Russian history we might already know. Could you talk about your approach to worldbuilding for this novel? With it being necessary to convey so much setting and background, how did you determine the priority for what the reader needed to know first?

Josh Weil: You’re right, the world of this novel took more preparatory building than anything I’ve written before. It was one of the hardest parts—especially in the editing process—to get right. And yet, in the beginning, in the earlier drafts, I didn’t think of it as worldbuilding. I didn’t even know the term (maybe it was just off my radar; I hear it a lot lately). All that stuff—the space mirrors, the Oranzheria, the way that the Russia of this novel is skewed differently from the actual Russia of today—was, honestly, guided simply by storytelling: what the story needed at what point, what was necessary for the reader to know to empathize, to comprehend the complexities of a relationship, to be sucked into the story. A lot of that comes down to getting why a character is ...[read on]
Visit Josh Weil's website.

Writers Read: Josh Weil.

The Page 69 Test: The Great Glass Sea.

--Marshal Zeringue