PAUL LA FARGE
NYS Writers Institute, September 27, 2012
Bestselling humorist Gary Shteyngart calls Luminous Airplanes, “one of the best works of fiction to come my way in a long time…. a quiet triumph of a book.” Swamplandia! author Karen Russell said, “Luminous Airplanes is a coming-of-age story like none other I’ve ever read; it is brilliant, poignant, startling, hilarious, and a really, really fun read. I loved it.” Flavorwire named it “one of the most criminally overlooked books of 2011.” In a starred review, the Kirkus reviewer called it, “An open-ended, postmodern fable that somehow delivers the satisfaction of the novelistic conventions it subverts,” and said, “Where so much experimental fiction seems pessimistic or even cynical about its possibilities, this novel sustains a spirit of innocence and wonder.”
La Farge’s most recent work was the highly inventive and peculiar “translation,” The Facts of Winter (2005), which purports to be the dreamlike, metaphysical work of fictional French poet Paul Poissel, translated into English and supplemented with notes and commentary by La Farge. The Village Voice reviewer said, “Delicate and direct, it’s barely there when closed in your palm, but opened, it performs sly thievery, nicking childlike flights between memory and imagination.”
La Farge’s earlier books include Haussmann, or the Distinction (2001), a novel about the city planner who transformed Paris into the jewel of Europe in the 19th century, and The Artist of the Missing (1999), a Kafkaesque tale of crime and murder set in a decaying city. In advance praise, bestselling author Dave Eggers said, “My favorite book of the year is Haussmann... I haven’t heard so much music in a book in a long time, and novelist Colson Whitehead said, “Haussmann designed cities; La Farge designs worlds—splendid, elegant edifices built on the rubble of our dreams and history.”
A “writer’s writer” much better-known to his peers than to the public, La Farge is the past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Bard Fiction Prize, and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. His new short story, “Another Life,” was published in the July 2, 2012 issue of the New Yorker.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.