Lauren Groff on the Complexities of Faith in Her New Book
This Week from the Reading Women Podcast
In this week’s episode, Kendra talks with Lauren Groff about her book, Matrix, which is out now from Riverhead Books.
From the episode:
Lauren: I wanted to write a book that had modern resonance and historical resonance. And those two forks, like two tines of a tuning fork, sang back and forth—the past and the present. So I was able to write about the contemporary day, but slant. I was able to actually look back in time and see maybe the roots of where we got to now, look back in time and see sort of the burgeoning, the new growth that became the old-growth forests of where we are now, sort of at the brink of climate collapse and democracy, everything. It was a moral choice for me to engage with the present day and not be escapist in this particular work.
Kendra: I love the fabulous elements that you mentioned. There’s a lot about faith in this book. I’m not Catholic, but I’ve read enough books to know different saints and their stories. You have all these little nuggets about that as well, which are delightful. But I wanted to ask you, there are so many different ways that the theme of faith plays a role in this book, whether that be people learning about the environment or animal husbandry and understanding the nature and how that works. For How did that theme work out? Was there any particular approach that you went into, wanting to discuss faith in different ways? Or is that just something that came about naturally as you were writing the book?
Lauren: I think that it would be really hard to write a book about an abbey where faith wasn’t at least one of the themes. I think that that is a very central theme around which the nuns’ lives were built. And therefore, even if, as at the time, there were people who probably didn’t believe in the dogma of the church as deeply as one assumes they did, that’s sort of the inherent doubt would be part of the story. Or alternatively, if every single person at a nunnery had a true, deep, from birth vocation, that that too would be part of the story too. So the faith or the negative image of faith would all sort of reflect back into the book in any given way.