Laura van den Berg at Harvard Book Store

presenting

State of Paradise: A Novel

in conversation with SHUCHI SARASWAT

Date

Jul
9
Tuesday
July 9, 2024
7:00 PM ET

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes LAURA VAN DEN BERG—Senior Lecturer on Fiction at Harvard University and author of The Third Hotel—for a discussion of her latest novel State of Paradise. She will be joined in conversation by SHUCHI SARAWAT—senior editor of AGNI

About State of Paradise

Along with her husband, a ghostwriter for a famous thriller author returns to her mother's house in the Florida town where she grew up. As the summer heat sets in, she wrestles with family secrets and memories of her own troubled youth. Her mercurial sister, who lives next door, spends a growing amount of time using MIND’S EYE, a virtual reality device provided to citizens of the town by ELECTRA, a tech company in South Florida, during the doldrums of a recent pandemic. But it’s not just the ominous cats, her mother’s burgeoning cult, or the fact that her belly button has become an increasingly deep cavern―something is off in the town, and it probably has to do with the posters of missing citizens spread throughout the streets.

During a violent rainstorm, the writer’s sister goes missing for several days. When she returns, sprawled on their mother’s lawn and speaking of another dimension, the writer is forced to investigate not only what happened to her sister and the other missing people but also the uncanny connections between ELECTRA, the famous author, and reality itself.

A sticky, rain-soaked reckoning with the elusive nature of storytelling, Laura van den Berg’s State of Paradise is an interlocking and page-turning whirlwind. With inimitable control and thrilling style, she reaches deep into the void and returns with a story far stranger than either reality or fiction.

Praise for State of Paradise

"Pitch perfect and exquisitely composed. Laura van den Berg is a gifted and audacious writer and she's written a novel of weight, power and beauty. I couldn't put it down." ―Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown

"A brilliant ghost story and a profoundly moving and atmospheric meditation on place, memory, and the very nature of reality, where everything is truly not as it seems. With sharp, gripping prose, Laura van den Berg fearlessly conjures the fundamental wildness of being alive in the world as we know it, and the pull of the deeper wildness within." ―Mona Awad, author of Rouge

"State of Paradise chronicles strange pandemic days, the rise of mindless electronic escape, and grief's otherworldly whims in a wholly original and epically engaging novel from a master of episodic oddity. I'll follow Laura van den Berg wherever she wants to take me, even Florida." ―Rachel Yoder, author of Nightbitch

Laura van den Berg
Laura van den Berg

Laura van den Berg

Laura van den Berg was born and raised in Florida. She is the author of five works of fiction, including The Third Hotel, a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, one of Time Magazine’s 10 Best Fiction Books of 2020. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bard Fiction Prize, and is a two-time finalist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Laura is currently a Senior Lecturer on Fiction at Harvard. Her next novel, State of Paradise, is forthcoming from FSG in July 2024. She lives in the Hudson Valley.

Photo Credit: Lucy Bohnsack

Shuchi Saraswat
Shuchi Saraswat

Shuchi Saraswat

Shuchi Saraswat’s essays are forthcoming in Ploughshares and Orion. For ten years, she worked as an independent bookseller and during that time she founded the Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith. She’s now the senior editor of the literary magazine, AGNI.

Photo Credit: AbdoulNasser Mika
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

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