Typically, relying on a cameraphone to convey the joie de vivre at Cafe Loup last night after nine of Granta‘s Best Young American Novelists read and spoke about their work at the New School‘s Tishman Auditorium leads to blurry, non-specific photographs like the one to the left. But even if the persons captured are hard to identify (Nell Freudenberger‘s in the center, that’s about all who is recognizable) those who attended both reading and afterparty generally had themselves a good time. I got to the reading on the late side, missing out on readings by Gary Shteyngart (whose oratory skills convinced at least one reader to pick up a copy of ABSURDISTAN), Olga Grushin, Akhil Sharma and Daniel Alarcon – handpicked by Ian Jack and Matt Weiland to read on the alleged grounds that they wrote non-American settings, or were born outside of America, depending on whom was asked (when I asked Jack and Weiland about it, each deferred to the other, which was actually pretty funny.)
The other five – Freudenberger, Jess Row, John Wray, Uzodinma Iweala and Gabe Hudson – didn’t read but took questions from the audience. One that elicited the most amusing answers was the old standby “why do you write?” Because, evidently, that’s all they can do or, as Shteyngart and Wray explained, they had been fired from any other job each tried.
An early beeline to Cafe Loup along with Lizzie Skurnick, Kathy Daneman and Rachel Grady (co-director of JESUS CAMP) meant exchanging greetings with Kate Lee, Elizabeth Spiers and Sloane Crosley, who were having dinner with Whit Stillman. (I also thought I spotted Ian Spiegelman at the far end of the table.)