#AWP17 Featured Presenter Q&A with Patricia Engel

AWP | December 2016

Event Title: Distant Lands, Intimate Voices, with Patricia Engel, Sabina Murray, and Viet Thanh Nguyen, Sponsored by Grove Atlantic
Description: Award-winning authors discuss bringing the global into their deeply personal new works: The Sympathizer, Valiant Gentleman, and The Veins of the Ocean. Writing from three different cultural backgrounds about countries as near and far from their own lives as Vietnam, Ireland, Colombia, and Cuba, each writer brings a new perspective to the meaning of writing from experience.
Participants: Patricia Engel, Sabina Murray, Viet Thanh Nguyen
Location: Ballroom C, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level Three
Date & Time: Friday, February 10, 2017 from 8:30 p.m.–10:00 p.m.

Q: What are some of the conference events or bookfair exhibitors you look forward to seeing?
A: I love catching as many panels as possible, though there is never enough time to see them all. I also love browsing the bookfair, picking up issues of favorite literary journals like Ecotone or Pleiades, and discovering new ones.

Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
A: I loved Christodora by Tim Murphy, Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey, Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce, Should I Still Wish by John W. Evans, Roxane Gay's new collection, Difficult Women, and Ottessa Moshfegh's new story collection, Homesick for Another World.

Q: Has public funding for the arts made a difference in your life and career as a writer?
A: Absolutely! I was fortunate to receive grants at different points in my career that were instrumental in the completion of different books I've written.

Q: What advice can you offer to writers who must navigate between the solitude of artistic work and our nation’s politics and culture at this moment?
A: I think we are all just figuring out how to survive as artists in this climate, but we should remember that our struggle is not unique and look to artists of previous generations for inspiration, leadership, and courage. Understanding and working within solitude is a necessary skill, but creating against a tumultuous current is our reason for being and we must not become paralyzed by adversity but invigorated by it.

Q: If you could run into any author, contemporary or historical, at #AWP17, who would it be and what would you talk about?
A: Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Clarice Lispector, Dagoberto Gilb, Zora Neale Hurston, Albert Camus, Sandra Cisneros, Chinua Achebe...the list could go on and on. I would just say THANK YOU.


Patricia Engel Patricia Engel is the author of The Veins of the Ocean, It's Not Love, It's Just Paris, and Vida, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway and Young Lions Fiction Awards, and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

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