Thursday, April 24, 2008

Nam Le

Nam Le is the author of the forthcoming short story collection, The Boat.

From a Q & A at the publisher's website:

Q: How did you go from working as a lawyer in Australia to attending the Iowa Writers Workshop? Did you always know you wanted to write?

A: Most of my life I’ve wanted to write poetry. I guess that goes for a lot of fiction writers. Through high school and university that’s basically all I concentrated on – I even persuaded my honors advisor to accept my (non-creative) thesis in verse – in rhyming couplets. We figured out a formula where a line of iambic tetrameter equalled something like 20 prose words; the poem ended up a thousand-line long critical treatise on W.H. Auden. After university I joined a law firm, then took a year off to go traveling, living off a bank loan facilitated by the firm’s letter of guarantee – which seemed, at the time, simultaneously carte blanche and soul-sucking contract. I had a year before having to return and pay off my debt. Of course, as soon as I set aside my suit and tie, I realized I never wanted to put such things on again. The solution was to write a novel. I sat down one afternoon in a cafĂ© in Quito and planned out a novel. Then, over the next couple of years, I wrote it. It was 700 pages and a spectacular, multi-dimensional failure. By then I’d started at the Iowa program and, in between trying to salvage the novel, I wrote the first versions of most of the stories in The Boat.
Read the full Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue