Rebecca Makkai is a Chicago-based writer whose first novel, The Borrower, is a Booklist Top Ten Debut, an Indie Next pick, an O Magazine selection, and one of Chicago Magazine's choices for best fiction of 2011. Her short fiction has been chosen for The Best American Short Stories for four consecutive years (2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008), and appears regularly in journals like Harper's, Tin House, Ploughshares, and New England Review.
Makkai's new novel is The Hundred-Year House.
From her Q & A with Claire Zulkey:
The Hundred-Year House was originally titled "Happensack": what were the origins of the first title, and why/how did it change?Learn more about the author and her work at Rebecca Makkai's website, Facebook page and Twitter perch.
The Happensack is the name of the mosaic someone is making in the 1999 section of the book, and it's a crucial piece symbolically as well as plot-wise. (The word "happensack" came from a character's mangling of the word "happenstance" - and so it was also a way of getting the idea of luck into the book's name.) There were two problems with that title: It didn't evoke anything for the prospective reader; and, as my husband finally pointed out, it kind of sounded like some weird slang word for testicles. I really did like it, though. That's still the book's secret name.
What were some of your favorite 1955 artifacts from your research for the book?
A fellow writer told me I should get the Sears catalogues off eBay for any year I was writing about. I found both the 1955 and 1929 ones, and they were both invaluable. 1955 was especially helpful on Paint by Number sets and clothes. I also found an amazing postcard of...[read on]
My Book, The Movie: The Borrower.
The Page 69 Test: The Hundred-Year House.
My Book, The Movie: The Hundred-Year House.