Celebrating the release of Lucy Corin’s new novel
The Swank Hotel
published by Graywolf Press
At the outset of the 2008 financial crisis, Em has a dependable, dull marketing job generating reports of vague utility while she anxiously waits to hear news of her sister, Ad, who has gone missing—again. Em’s days pass drifting back and forth between her respectably cute starter house (bought with a “responsible, salary-backed, fixed-rate mortgage”) and her dreary office. Then something unthinkable, something impossible happens and she begins to see how madness permeates everything around her while the mundane spaces she inhabits are transformed, through Lucy Corin’s idiosyncratic magic, into shimmering sites of the uncanny.
The story that swirls around Em moves through several perspectives and voices. There is Frank, the tart-tongued, failing manager at her office; Jack, the man with whom Frank has had a love affair for decades; Em and Ad’s eccentric parents who live in a house that is perpetually being built; and Tasio, the young man from Chiapas who works for them and falls in love with Ad. Through them Corin portrays porousness and breakdown in individuals and families, in economies and political systems, in architecture, technology, and even in language itself.
The Swank Hotel is an acrobatic, unforgettable, surreal, and unexpectedly comic novel that interrogates the illusory dream of stability that pervaded early twenty-first century America.
Lucy Corin is the author of the the story collections One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses and The Entire Predicament, and the novel Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls. Her work has appeared in American Short Fiction, Conjunctions, Harper’s Magazine, Ploughshares, Bomb, Tin House Magazine, and the New American Stories anthology from Vintage Contemporaries. She is the recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Rome Prize and a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches at the University of California at Davis and lives in Berkeley.
Susan Steinberg is the author of four books of fiction: Machine (Graywolf Press), Spectacle (Graywolf Press), Hydroplane (FC2), and The End of Free Love (FC2). She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a United States Artists Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize and a National Magazine Award. She has held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, the Wurlitzer Foundation, Civitella Ranieri Center, the James Merrill House, Ledig House, Yaddo, and NYU. Her stories have appeared in McSweeney’s, Conjunctions, The Gettysburg Review, American Short Fiction, Boulevard, Quarterly West, Denver Quarterly, The Massachusetts Review, and other journals and magazines. She is a professor in the English Department at University of San Francisco.
Deb Olin Unferth is a short story writer, novelist, and memoirist. She is the author of the short fiction collection Minor Robberies, the novel Vacation, both published by McSweeney’s, and the memoir, Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War, published by Henry Holt. Unferth was a finalist for a 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for her memoir, Revolution.
This event has been sponsored by the City Lights Foundation