Sheila Heti and Sunny YudkoffDec 14, 2023
Overtaken by Awe
Sheila Heti Speaks with Sunny Yudkoff
New Books Network 2023
Sheila Heti sits down with Sunny Yudkoff and ND host John Plotz to discuss her incredibly varied oeuvre. She does it all: stories, novels, alphabetized diary entries as well as a series of dialogues in the New Yorker with an AI named Alice.
Drawing on her background in Jewish Studies, Sunny prompts Sheila to unpack the implicit and explicit theology of her recent Pure Color (Sheila admits she “spent a lot of time thinking about …what God’s pronouns are going to be" )--as well as the protagonist's temporary transformation into a leaf. The three also explore how life and lifelikeness shape How Should a Person Be. Sheila explains why "auto-fiction" strikes her as a "bad category" and "a lazy way of thinking about what the author is doing formally" since "the history of literature is authors melding their imagination with their lived experience."
Sheila’s response to the signature question was both textual and hilarious. A true writer's weirdness!
Mentioned in this Episode:
By Sheila Heti:
- Pure Colour
- How Should a Person Be?
- Alphabetical Diaries
- We Need a Horse (children's book)
- The Chairs are Where the People Go (with Misha Glouberman)
- Oulipo Group
- Autofiction: e.g. Ben Lerner, Rachel Cusk, Karl Ove Knausgard
- Craig Seligman, Sontag and Kael
- George Eliot, Middlemarch
- Clarice Lispector (e.g. The Hour of the Star)
- Kenneth Goldsmith Soliloquy
- Willa Cather , The Professor's House
- William Steig, Sylvester and The Magic Pebble.
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