Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gwendolen Gross

Caroline Leavitt put some questions to Gwendolen Gross about her new novel, The Orphan Sister, including:

What is it about sisters that is so compelling?

Sisters! Well, first of all, I have three, one of whom has a different mother and who is 20 years younger than I. She was the first baby for whom I fell, completely; people asked if she was my first (thinking she was my baby), and I said, "No, I have two other sisters!"

Anyone who has sisters knows you share many things: frame of reference, in-jokes, adolescent contempt for parents, deep and sometimes jealous love of those same parents. Sisters give you a model, a mold, for many of life's relationships. Shared experience and competition, both. I think of my sisters daily, but viscerally, rather than intellectually. My son smells like my older sister, Claudia, when he wakes up (a wonderful smell, not morning breath). If I make an absurd nonsequiteur no one gets, I think: Becca would understand, or: I have to tell my friend Cindy (with whom I don't share parents or childhood, but somewhere, historically, we must share genes). Since so much of sisterhood is collective circumstance, adoptive sisters might have their own shared frame--but different matting or something. That could be another book!

What I loved about this novel was how different it seemed from your previous ones (not that I didn't love them, as well.) Did you feel that you were treading new ground and how terrifying was that to contemplate?

First, thank you so very much! As you know, someone who has read your book is someone you have loved, even if only a little, even if you'll never meet (though I've been lucky enough to meet you).

I think writers tend to have both infinite stories and finite truths--the truths emerge in the exploration of character, place, plot. With this book I hoped to...[read on]
Visit Gwendolen Gross's website and The Orphan Sister website.

--Marshal Zeringue