Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter
Earlier this month, JBC announced the five fiction finalists for this year’s $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. The authors are as diverse as the books themselves, so, here at the ProsenPeople, we thought we’d give you the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the 2013 Rohr contenders. We asked each author a few questions about writing, their Rohr finalist book, favorite books, and, of course, what’s up next for them. Today we hear from Stuart Nadler, author of the short story collection The Book of Life. Stuart actually just published his debut novel, Wise Men, so if you haven’t had time to read it, go on out and grab yourself a copy.
No stranger to the Jewish Book Council, in 2011, Stuart blogged for our Visiting Scribe series, was interviewed for our Emerging Voices column, and participated in a #JLit Twitter Book Club. If that wasn’t enough, JBC reviewer Phil Sandick stated that:
With [The Book of Life], Nadler firmly establishes himself within the tradition of short story writers such as John Cheever and Richard Ford, and announces himself as a promising voice in contemporary fiction.
Below, Stuart discusses the books of his youth, writing without internet, and his love for the short story:
Everything about writing is a challenge. Writing fiction is that rare task in which practice and repetition and some perceived confidence only seem to make it harder to do well.
What or who has been your inspiration for writing fiction?
I’ve always wanted to write. When I was young – – maybe seven or eight – – I got as a gift a set of classic novels simplified for children. These were the first books I ever really loved. Most of them were adventure stories: Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Time Machine. Ever since then I’ve wanted to write.
Who is your intended audience?
I’m not sure if I have an intended audience in mind when I work. The best and most surprising thing about writing a book is that it goes out into the world, and you never know who might pick it up and read it and find a connection in the work.
Are you working on anything new right now?
I’ve just published a new novel called Wise Men. Apart from that, I’m in the middle of two projects. Both of them are novels – – or at least, right now they are.
What are you reading now?
I’ve just started Richard Ford’s Canada, and so far it’s terrific.
Top 5 Favorite Books
- Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
- Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
- Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
- The Stories of John Cheever
- The Ghost Writer, Philip Roth
I’ve always wanted to write, as long as I can remember.
What is the mountaintop for you — how do you define success?
If there is a mountaintop, I would hope, simply, that it means that I’ve had the opportunity to keep working and writing.
How do you write — what is your private modus operandi? What talismans, rituals, props do you use to assist you?
I’ve shed just about all the superstitions and limits and quotas and page-limits that I used to toy with and try. I prefer to write early, and often. I write on a computer without any internet access, and although it never used to be this way, increasingly I write in silence, without music on in the background. And I always leave myself a hint for the next day’s work.
What do you want readers to get out of your book?
Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Naomi is the executive director of Jewish Book Council. She graduated from Emory University with degrees in English and Art History and, in addition, studied at University College London. Prior to her role as executive director, Naomi served as the founding editor of the JBC website and blog and managing editor of Jewish Book World. In addition, she has overseen JBC’s digital initiatives, and also developed the JBC’s Visiting Scribe series and Unpacking the Book: Jewish Writers in Conversation.