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At The New Yorker Festival with Jhumpa Lahiri, Jeffrey Eugenides and Nicole Krauss


There was a genuine buzz in the dimmed venue, full to its 500 seat capacity, plus the handful of people sitting or milling about the back of the theatre on or near the white leather sofa benches that Acura had placed carefully in front of the free coffee bar they’d set up next to their display car. It wasn’t just the caffeine, though; three of the English world’s biggest names in literature today were about to take the stage for an event entitled “The Writer’s Writer.”

Everyone had come for their favourite and the hope was to learn something about books and writing and perhaps even a little biographical tidbit beyond the Wikipedia widely available.

Belying the unhappy expression that at times looked downright angry (but more on that later), Jhumpa Lahiri, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Interpreter of Maladies, was dressed in a muted brown jacket with sparkly shiny things all over it. Her hair wasn’t tied back severely, but its being tied back did seem to more closely approximate her mood. Jeffrey Eugenides, another Pulitzer winner, for his second novel, Middlesex, didn’t seem unhappy in the least to be up there on the raised stage. He had a professor’s public speaking confidence, sitting comfortably, almost glowingly in front of the large, eager crowd. The third and final panelist, Nicole Krauss, sometimes mistakenly known only as the wife of Jonathan Safran Foer (Everything is Illuminated), has written three novels, the second of which, The History of Love, not only sold in the kind of numbers a writer of literature would dream of, but was a finalist for the Orange Prize

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