Transforming Tragedy Into Art


Vaddey Ratner discusses In the Shadow of Banyan, a debut novel depicting her family's experience during the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s. "I didn't want to write a memoir," she says. "What I wanted was to honor the lives lost, those who perished, and I wanted to do so through my endeavor to transorm personal pain with art." In the Shadow of Banyan will be published by Simon & Schuster in July.

Chris Cleave


"People think I'm a writer of these very sad stories. Well, I wanted to write about something that was joyful and I wanted to write about how much people will sacrifice of their ambition in order to care for the people they love," says Chris Cleave, the best-selling author of Little Bee (2009), about his next novel, Gold, forthcoming from Simon & Schuster next summer.


Blake Butler's Nothing


In Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia, published last month by Harper Perennial, Blake Butler uses scientific data, historical anecdote, Internet obsession, and figures as diverse as Andy Warhol, John Cage, Jorge Luis Borges, and Stephen King to explore the tension between sleeping and conscious life. This bizarre trailer, directed by Drew Mobley, evokes Butler's own 129-hour bout of insomnia described in the book.


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