Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Maya Lang

Maya Lang grew up on Long Island, New York, where she stayed up reading late at night after pretending to be interested in science during the day. The Sixteenth of June, her first novel, is a modern riff on Ulysses that you can enjoy even if you’ve never read a word of Joyce. It was selected by Bookish as one of the best novels of the summer.

From Lang's Q & A with Ron Charles for the Washington Post:

Associating your debut novel on the greatest novel in English literature sounds awfully daring, no?

Daring, yes. The first sentence of the novel came to me out of the blue when I was grappling with “Ulysses.” Only later did I realize its first word was “Leopold,” its last, “bloom.” I saw that sentence as an invitation to go down the rabbit hole of Joyce — a dare, if you will. I resisted it for a while — who was I to write a novel about a revered classic? — but the characters took root. I told myself I wasn’t writing a novel; I simply wanted to know what would happen to the three people stuck in my head. Once it was clear that I had a first draft filled with “Ulysses” references, I decided to embrace the challenge and model each chapter around a “Ulysses” episode, complete with excerpted lines.

Everybody knows of “Ulysses,” but so few people actually read it. What do you make of that paradox?

Yes! Exactly! This paradox is the crux of my novel. “Ulysses” brings to mind that great Groucho Marx line about not wanting to be in a club that would have you as a member. Joyce built the ultimate exclusive club that no one can get into — so everyone wants to claim they have. I wanted “The Sixteenth of June” to work on three levels: for those who haven’t read “Ulysses,” for its devotees, and on a meta-level about the lore surrounding it. I see “Ulysses” as a metaphor for...[read on]
Visit Maya Lang's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Sixteenth of June.

Writers Read: Maya Lang.

--Marshal Zeringue