Sunday, September 4, 2011

Justin Torres

Justin Torres was raised in upstate New York. His work has appeared in Granta, Tin House, and Glimmer Train. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he was the recipient of a Rolón Fellowship in Literature from United States Artists and is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. Among many other things, he has worked as a farmhand, a dog walker, a creative writing teacher, and a bookseller. His debut novel is We the Animals.

From his Q & A with Sara Ortz at The Outlet:

SO: What do you think might make people resistant to your work (your novel, in this case)?

JT: I remember, at Iowa, hearing third-hand someone’s negative appraisal of my work—this from a very confident, straight, white guy. He hadn’t read the entire novel, but a few chapters. He said it was provincial, and that I was afraid of writing about the larger world, the big ideas. He also talked a lot about my being a “minority” and “minority literature”… or so I heard.

SO: What was your response?

JT: If he had actually raised these issues to my face, I would have said something along the lines of…I don’t think we need to travel very far outside our own experience to find “big ideas” at play in the world. I mean, I love a lot of broad, inventive books. But I love small books as well. I’m not threatened by “majority” literature; I’m not threatened by literature that purports to address the big questions, or take a broad view of the world, and I’d be curious as to whether, and why, he felt threatened by what I was doing.

But he didn’t like me, and we had never had a class together, and we never got to have that conversation.

SO: Right. Would you call your book esoteric?

JT: ...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue