Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai is a Chicago-based author of the novels The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House. 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 book is the story collection Music for Wartime.

From her Q & A with Zhanna Slor at the Michigan Quarterly Review:

I noticed, with all of your books, that you write a lot about artists. Were you raised around a lot of them?

Yes, in a way. My parents were linguistic professors; but my dad was also a really talented amateur pianist, and my mother played the organ. My sister was a piano performance major at Oberlin and now she’s a piano teacher. Actually, I was really raised more around musicians. It was more that they had a lot of artistic friends. My dad was part of the ex-pat Hungarian community and there were a lot of artists there, painters and writers. I had an aunt who ran a ballet studio. As for the “write what you know” school of thought, I realized early on in my writing process that artists and intellectuals were who I was most comfortable writing about. I’m not the right person to write some gritty novel about life on the streets—I’m glad people are doing it, but I would be terrible.

The Hundred-Year House had all sorts of visual artists, but in this collection, there’s more focus on music and musicians. You also go into quite a bit of detail with the technical aspects of playing. Did you have to do some research for that?

Yes. I studied piano and voice in college, but I don’t know a lot about string instruments, so a friend of mine connected me with a professional violinist who read both “Cross” and “The Worst You Ever Feel.” She gave me a lot of feedback about little details. Like in “The Worst You Ever Feel,” the violinist is missing a finger, and originally I had it as his pinky, but she said that wouldn’t be missed as much as his ring finger, so...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her work at Rebecca Makkai's website, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Borrower.

The Page 69 Test: The Hundred-Year House.

My Book, The Movie: The Hundred-Year House.

--Marshal Zeringue