Lauren Groff and Laura McGrath

Nov 30, 2023

Attention is Love

A Discussion with Lauren Groff and Laura McGrath (SW)

New Books Network 2023

Just days before the release of her latest novel, The Vaster Wilds (Riverhead Books, 2023), three-time National Book Award Finalist and The New York Times-bestselling author Lauren Groff sat down to talk to critic Laura McGrath and host Sarah Wasserman. Although Groff admits that she wants “each subsequent book to destroy the one” that came before, writing is always for her an endeavor of focus, ritual, and most of all, love. Whether they retell foundational myths about the nation, as in The Vaster Wilds, or rethink the relationship between faith, nature, and desire, as does Matrix, Groff puts love for her characters, for the planet, and for the process of writing at the center of all her fiction. She discusses an anticipated triptych of novels beginning with Matrix and continuing with The Vaster Wilds that covers 1,000 years of women, religion, and planetary crisis and care. The Vaster Wilds tells a kind of anti-captivity narrative as it follows a servant girl who has escaped from a colonial settlement in 1609. The novel asks what it means to love the wilderness even when it is hostile to human survival. Groff and McGrath explore how the novel offers a cautionary tale about the intertwined ills of colonialism and climate change without shame or condescension. Constantly rearranging “the detritus of the actual world” into stories of faith and love and care, Groff relies on the rituals of daily life to discover the formal architectures of fiction.

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