The National Book Foundation just posted some great interviews with the current National Book Award finalists, including MCC Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Fellows Salvatore Scibona (’06) and Joan Wickersham (’08).
From the interview with Salvatore, by Bret Anthony Johnson:
BAJ: An interesting similarity among the fiction finalists this year is how all of the novels focus on the past. What is it about the past that so captivates readers and writers?
SS: We write about the past because there is so much more of it than the present.
I once asked Marilynne Robinson, who was my teacher at the time, why most novels were written in the past tense. This was at a party in honor of her book of essays, The Death of Adam, which has been a life-shaping book to me. And she said, “Excuse mewho lives in the present?”
From the interview with Joan, by Meehan Crist:
MC: What is one moment from the process of working on this book that you’ll never forget?
JW: In the fall of 2004 I was at the MacDowell Colony and they happened to put me in a studio designed for photographers. The first day, I looked over the manuscript Id brought with me a numb, lyrical novel about my fathers death and threw out most of it. Only a few pieces survived. Suddenly I saw that one long wall of the studio was made of tackboard. I tacked up the pieces and realized I could write the book in fragments, big and small pieces that would be true to the fragmentary nature of the experience. It was electrifying: spreading it out visually, actually seeing it on the wall, rather than having it be a neat polite pile of paper.