Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Maya Lang

Maya Lang grew up on Long Island, New York, where she stayed up reading late at night after pretending to be interested in science during the day. The Sixteenth of June, her first novel, is a modern riff on Ulysses that you can enjoy even if you’ve never read a word of Joyce. It was selected by Bookish as one of the best novels of the summer.

From Lang's Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

The Sixteenth of June is set over the course of a single day, much like James Joyce’s Ulysses, and so much of it pays homage to Joyce. So, my first question is, Why James Joyce? What made you decide on this structure and what were the difficulties you faced?

First, thank you so much for having me here. I always look forward to this blog and the questions you ask, so this is an honor.

I think there’s an old saying about how the writer doesn’t choose the subject matter; it chooses her. I was studying for comp exams in grad school one day when a sentence came to me out of nowhere, seeming to drop from the sky: Leopold turns the volume up as the hail comes down, so loud that Nora worries the windshield will crack and across it a giant web will bloom.

I felt like a cat that had just coughed up a hairball: What is that? Later, I realized the first word was “Leopold” and the last was “bloom.” I wondered if there could be a novel riffing on Ulysses while exploring the questions that bothered me about it. Namely, why do we revere a book that holds us at arm’s length? Do people truly love Ulysses or do they just claim to? If I, as a doctoral candidate, couldn’t get through those unpunctuated passages or follow the references, who could?

Many Ulysses references snuck into...[read on]
Visit Maya Lang's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Sixteenth of June.

Writers Read: Maya Lang.

--Marshal Zeringue