Jenny Offill on the Ambition of Short Novels
In Conversation with Kendra Winchester on Reading Women
In this week’s episode, Kendra chats with Jenny Offill, the author of Weather, which is out now in paperback from Vintage.
From the episode:
Kendra: When I picked up the book and read that it was about climate change, I was like, wow, this is such a concise book dealing with such a large topic. Was that task daunting going in?
Jenny: I think that’s just part of what interests me as a writer, is this idea of how much can be distilled into a small space. I think we have an idea, especially in America, that an ambitious novel is a sprawling, huge novel. But I also think it’s quite interesting to me to see how much can you show in a glancing way. How much can you show the way that often in our real lives we take in information, which is that we might take in something that is a huge existential crisis for the world, but then a moment later, we’re helping our kids get ready for school. Or we’re talking to a neighbor. Or we’re realizing our car doesn’t start. The way that we kind of move between these calibrations of emergency and everydayness was something that I wanted to try to capture in Weather.
This episode is brought to you by Chanel. A visionary woman who’s influence on the arts continues even today, Gabrielle Chanel created her life and her legend on her own terms. Discover her story at InsideChanel.com.
Jenny Offill is the author of the novels Last Things (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Fiction Award) and Dept. of Speculation, which was shortlisted for the Folio Prize, the Pen-Faulkner Award, and the International Dublin Literary Award. She lives in upstate New York and teaches at Syracuse University and in the low-residency program at Queens University.