Monday, April 18, 2016

Rebecca Makkai

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 latest novel is The Hundred-Year House.

From her Q & A at 0s&1s Reads, where she was asked about negative reviews:

OK, jumping ahead now to THE HUNDRED-YEAR HOUSE, starting with NPR, which gave a pretty good review overall, but included the line: "Makkai fails to make the estate the foreboding character it needs to be to both ground and uproot these privileged characters who can't see how lucky they are and how self-absorbed their lives have become.” Do you remember reading this review when it came out?

I don't remember it, but there was another review--I think in Kirkus--that also seemed to have issues with wealthy characters not being in some way punished for their wealth. It's funny, because one of the characters living on the grounds this estate is a Marxist literary critic who's largely rejected her family's wealth and legacy... and at least two sources end up giving the book kind of a Marxist reading.

About the house, though... I wanted to both take part in and subvert some of the conventions of the haunted house novel, and the problem is that as soon as you raise the possibility of a haunted house, some readers are going to want you to jump wholly into that genre; they're going to be disappointed that you're not writing THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. Which I would write if I could, but I'm not Shirley Jackson and I was doing something else.

One lovely, positive thing that nevertheless kind of drives me nuts is when people say "You made the house itself a character!" Because I really don't think I did that. The house is a setting.

It had a different title for a long time, and I think once I put the word "house" in there -- long after I'd finished writing it -- it drew attention to the house itself, set up some expectations that...[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