5 Questions with Kalani Pickhart, Author of I Will Die in a Foreign Land

Nov 22, 2021

author photo of kalani pickhart

Photo by Sidney Cisco

Kalani Pickhart is the recipient of research fellowships from the Virginia G. Piper Center and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Intelligence for Eastern European and Eurasian Studies. I Will Die in a Foreign Land is her first novel, published by Two Dollar Radio.

She will be discussing her new book with Maria Kuznetsova as part of our City Lights LIVE! virtual event series on Monday, November 22, 2021!

Where are you writing to us from?  

Phoenix, AZ: Wearing pajamas on my couch after working a twelve-hour day at the office, and just fed my cat, Yaz. He got some tuna tonight. 

What’s kept you sane during the pandemic?

 A book club with some of my favorite gal pals. Also my cat. Have I mentioned my cat? 

What books are you reading right now? Which books do you return to?

I’m reading Godshot by Chelsea Bieker, rereading The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood as a case study, and just finished Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell on audiobook. 

I’ve read The Blind Assassin a few times now. I learn a lot from this book on putting together a narrative collage. 

Which writers, artists, and others influence your work in general, and this book, specifically?  

Specifically for I Will Die in a Foreign Land: Michael Ondaatje, Milan Kundera, DakhaBrakha, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Igor Stravinsky, Taras Shevchenko.

For my current project: The Southern Gothic canon, Caravaggio, Twin Peaks, Marina Abramović, Le Corbusier, Mahmoud Darwish, Pavel Borshenko, Briscoe Park, Brendon Burton, Edward Hopper. My influences shift a little depending on what I’m working on. 

If you opened a bookstore, where would it be located, what would it be called, and what would your bestseller be? 

Believe it or not I’ve thought about it! Maybe somewhere in New England cause I love it there. Or somewhere in the Southwest. Either way it would have to be inside an old chapel, just because I love chapels (think like There Will Be Blood). It would definitely have to be named Heretic Books. Best sellers would all be Banned Books. 


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