Jennifer EganApr 5, 2022
The Candy House
An interview with Jennifer Egan, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and author most recently of The Candy House (Scribner, 2022), the story of the intersections across space and time of characters desperate to understand their interior lives. At the hub of these stories, a machine capable of capturing and sharing memories, and even offering the possibility of joining a collectivity of consciousness. Jennifer Egan, as always, balances perfectly the profound intellectual problems of existence with characters who feel deeply real by virtue of their uncommon minds. We get to talking about how her process is one of discovery through the unconscious practice of writing, and the ways in which certain ideas of what the reader should feel and experience guide her structure. We discuss her creation of the futuristic machine in The Candy House that, in the end, fashions what only the novel can produce: a window into the minds and memories of another. On the subject of movement back and forth through time and place, Jennifer credits a marvelous children’s novel for the concept of parallel worlds into which characters can dip in and out of. In an incredibly wide-ranging discussion, we touch upon Dungeons and Dragons, the longest and possibly best 18th century novel, the possibility of reading The Candy House as the predecessor to A Visit from the Goon Squad, and so much more.
Chris Holmes is Chair of Literatures in English and Associate Professor at Ithaca College. He writes criticism on contemporary global literatures. His book, Kazuo Ishiguro as World Literature, is under contract with Bloomsbury Publishing. He is the co-director of The New Voices Festival, a celebration of work in poetry, prose, and playwriting by up-and-coming young writers.