News and Events

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January/February/March 2018

Video from many years ago, here for safekeeping: Reading AWBR at Authors@Google Series 

Helped put together Scoundrel Time's 1st anniversary feature, "How it Ends." I have a piece there too, "Last Words." 



Joined the masthead at Scoundrel Time, a literary magazine interested in the politics of every-day personal experience. I'm Editor-At-Large, looking for fiction and nonfiction that speaks to the strange present moment in our political life...

Wanderlust, a reading of travel writing from the MFA program at UNCW: Saturday, December 2nd at 6pm, at Pomegranate Books in Wilmington, NC.

I'll be reading from Criminals alongside the marvelous novelist Kristen Iskandrian, author of Motherest: Monday, October 30th at 7pm, University of North Carolina Wilmington. Part of UNCW's annual Writers Week extravaganza --which this year features Ross Gay...I'll also be on a panel discussing "The Ethics of Voice" and on the next day, a little something on writing prompts...

Friday, October 27, giving a talk on placebo and creativity at Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia.

My essay collection Criminals, coming out in July 2018 from Counterpoint Press.



“A Crash Course in Japanese Poetry,” North Carolina Teaching Asia Network, September 30, 2017

Thinking of starting a novel this summer? I'm teaching a weekend workshop for those contemplating the plunge. Start Your Novel: A Weekend Bootcamp. It's at Catapult in New York City, August 5-6.



"Can Placebos Work If You Know They're Placebos?" In which I talk with Mary Louise Kelly on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. Just hit play.

"Why I Take Fake Pills," my piece on creativity and placebo, out in the May issue of Smithsonian.


January/February/March 2017

Just stumbled on "Last Fragment from a Taiwan Notebook: Traffic, Turn Signals, Fate" in Fulbright Taiwan's Research and Reflections. The madness of Taichung traffic--or is it my own madness?...Below the text is a short video interview on Fulbright and the value of cross-cultural interchange. Very earnest, but I believe it all absolutely.



Ants marching up the wall as it thunders outside: my palm-of-the-hand essay "Night in Taiwan" is in Fourth River.


July/August/ September

Franz Kafka, Lenny Bruce, a Sephardic shul on Ocean Parkway, and a Brooklyn-born artist by the name of Archie Rand. My piece on this glorious tangle is up now on The Los Angeles Review of Books: "A God Who Let Us Prove His Existence Would Be An Idol: Archie Rand, “The 613,” and the Slippery, Vexing, Kafkaesque Problem Of the Jewish Visual Imagination."

How lovely to see my essay "Criminals," originally in The Paris Review, listed as a Notable Essay in the 2016 edition of Best American Essays, along with 99 other marvelous pieces by Michael Martone, Pamela Erens, Corinne Manning, Wendy Rawlings, and so many others.



When your work is translated into another language--it's like getting into a transporter and flashing across the globe. The current issue of the Iranian lit mag Hamshahri Dastan is out now with a translation of my little essay, "My Mother, My Writing Student," first in the NY Times. A huge thank you to the wonderful translator, Basir Borhani.

The Los Angeles Review of Books has a quarterly journal, too, (print only,) and the Winter 2016 edition is out now with my palm-of-the-hand memoir "Postcard."


December/January/February 2016

My essay "Gourmets," originally in Tin House, is out for another stroll--this time in the December issue of Utne Reader.

The 2016 Pushcart Prize anthology is particularly amazing this year, with work by Zadie Smith, Colum McCann, and Joanna Scott, among other great writers. And it doesn't hurt that my essay "Gourmets," originally in Tin House, gets a special mention.

 "Love, Hunger, Memory," my graduate seminar in food writing, will be doing a public reading at Pomegranate Books in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Thursday, December 3 at 7 pm. Read class member Aurora Shimshak's blog post on the class experience. And Lydia Buchanan's post here. And come and join us if you're in town.



Tomatoes, possums, a blue heron, and other terrors of country living: all about our backyard in the new anthology 27 Views of Wilmington, out now...and including the irrepressible Karen E. Bender, Michael White, and Dana Sachs.

Punk rock icon, poet, novelist, luftmensch, wearer of extraordinary hats and Edwardian mustaches—I write about the British renaissance man Billy Childish on The Paris Review Daily...Billy Childish: I Just Paint.

My piece in The Paris Review Daily"Vermeer in Manhattan," has found its true language: Dutch. Now out in 360 Magazine



Rome, Tokyo, temple robbery, and the many uses of wigs…my essay "Criminals" is out in the fall issue of The Paris Review. That's the issue with memoir by James Salter and a new short story by Deborah Eisenberg.

The cross-pollination of writing and art at the Guggenheim: "I Think I Would Rather Be a Painter"--on The Paris Review Daily.

A gourmet food tour of France that goes strangely awry...a job guiding Japanese tourists through the labyrinths of Manhattan…My essay collection Criminals has been acquired by Counterpoint Press. 

"Vermeer in Manhattan"--in which I visit all eight of the New York Vermeers with poet Michael White, on The Paris Review Daily.

I talk with poet and memoirist Michael White in The Los Angeles Review of Books: "Enigmatic Interiors: On Love, Death, Divorce, and Michael White’s New Travels in Vermeer"



Avant-garde trickster Terayama Shuji's fiction offers a world in which puppets fall in love and make their owners jealous, and talking birds learn the art of betrayal. My review of The Crimson Thread of Abandon is up now on Three Percent.

Author Spotlight for the O. Henry Prize Anthology up now...

Inmates in a Chinese re-education camp struggle to survive famine and each other in the years after the Great Leap Forward: my review of Chinese dissident novelist Yan Lianke's The Four Books is up now at The Rumpus.

Why is it that I love reading about travel even more than traveling? My UNCW travel writing seminar will be doing a group reading at Wilmington's Pomegranate Books on Friday, April 24 at 7 pm. Stop by if you're in town.

I love the dialogue in Chinese novelist Yan Lianke's Serve the People!, so when NOR asked me to write on dialogue, I went right to that wonderful book. "I Deserve Two Firing Squads: Dialogue and Conflict in Fiction" is out now in The New Ohio Review.


December/January/February 2015

A Japanese translation of "The Right Imaginary Person" is in the February issue of 英語で読む村上春樹,世界の中の日本文学 (Eigo de yomu Murakami Haruki--sekai no naka no Nihonbungaku), which accompanies the NHK radio show Rajiru-Rajiru….To see my story transformed into "正しい架空の人" (Tadashii kakuu no hito) was like stepping through a door into a dream. A huge thank you to Fujii Hikaru for an enormously sensitive translation and commentary.



"How Writers Write Fiction," a new online class offered by the University of Iowa, with video segments by lots of incredible writers—and me talking about haiku and “sea slugs, frozen in one clump.”

The 2014 O. Henry Prize Anthology is out now with my story "The Right Imaginary Person" from Tin House-- alongside pieces by William Trevor, Dylan Landis, Louise Erdrich, and a bunch of other amazing writers.

My essay "Unreliable Tour Guide," originally in the Winter issue of Ploughshares, was named a Notable Essay in the 2014 Best American Essays anthology.



A 13 year old kid on a food tour of France with three middle-aged ladies who can't get along: my essay "Gourmets" is out in the Fall issue of Tin House.

Everyone knows how vulnerable it can feel to show your writing in a workshop, but the truth is that it can feel vulnerable to teach a writing workshop too--especially when you have your mother in your class…My piece on this odd conundrum is out now in The New York Times.



Wednesday, May 21 at 7:20, I'll be giving a final presentation at the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange in Taipei: 2nd Fl., 45 Yanping S. Rd., Zhongzheng District, 中正區延平南路45號2樓, Tel. 02-2388-2100.

My short story, "The Right Imaginary Person," will be in the 2014 O. Henry Prize anthology, out this fall. It's a great collection of the year's short fiction, full of work by wonderful writers, including the extraordinary William Trevor.

Back to Tunghai High on Monday, May 5, for another haiku session!

Reprise visit to Dah-Yeh University on May 1st, this time to give a workshop on the uses of creative writing for English instruction. What better way to practice a language than to tell a story in it?

I'll be at Tunghai University Affiliated High School on Monday, April 28, teaching haiku to the 7th and 8th graders.

Bats, cobras, housepainters who use their ladders as stilts to walk around the room: "Fragments from a Taiwan Notebook" in the current edition of Fulbright Taiwan's Research and Reflections.


December/January/February 2014

Presentation at Dah-Yeh University, Taiwan, Tuesday, February 18 at 1:30. I'll try to distill my various confusions about narrative and the odd joys of the English language.

I talk with the wonderful Chinese novelist Yan Lianke in Bookforum about sex, socialism, banned books and poisoned ducks.

Have you ever found an old book and suddenly remembered the time in your life when you first read it? I write about that experience in the Winter issue of Tin House, out now.

"When I sat down to consider my marketable skills, I identified just three: I was good at trading raunchy jokes with drunken clergy; I knew how to make an open fan swoop and glide across a room; and I could speak Japanese...” I write about the mystery of employment for writers in "Unreliable Tour Guide," in the new Winter issue of Ploughshares, out now.


September/October/November 2013

My piece on Kawabata Yasunari is out in the Fall issue of Ploughshares

“Kawabata Yasunari: The Breeze in the Ink Painting."

A conversation with Karen E. Bender on love, politics, and the future of the novel--in Bookforum.

 "The Right Imaginary Person" (Tin House, Winter 2012) is named a Notable Story in the 2013 edition of Best American Short Stories.

"Nothing that Wants to Run Away," on death, fatherhood, and our obsession with meat, out in The Harvard Review 44. In the same issue: a new short story from a favorite writer, Edith Pearlman.