Curtis Sittenfeld's Favorite Books
The author of the bestselling Prep and American Wife recommends a few of her favorite reads, from an Alice Munro classic to two books from emerging writers.
Emperor of the Airby Ethan Canin
“I loved these wise, sad, elegant stories.
Years before Ethan Canin became my grad school adviser, I loved these wise, sad, elegant stories. When I was in 10th grade, I lay on the deck of my boarding-school dorm and read this book instead of studying for my spring exams. I bombed my exams, but I learned a lot about writing and people, from reading Canin's work.
Runawayby Alice Munro
“Totally devastating in the wonderful way of great fiction.”
I'm in awe of pretty much everything Alice Munro writes and it's impossible to say which of her collections is truly my favorite, but the story "Tricks" in Runaway is incredible. It's totally devastating in the wonderful way of great fiction (as opposed to just being totally devastating in the awful way the real world frequently is).
How to Leave Hialeahby Jennine Capo Crucet
All That Work and Still No Boysby Kathryn Ma
“When Crucet and Ma become really famous and win Pulitzers, I plan to pretend I discovered them.”
I judged a story-collection contest in which I picked these two books as the winners, and they'll both be published in September. Although they're each to some extent about the immigrant experience—among Cuban-Americans in Crucet's case and Chinese-Americans in Ma's—they're not that similar except that they're both completely wonderful and a huge treat to read. When Crucet and Ma become really famous and win Pulitzers, I plan to pretend I discovered them.
The Lucky Ones by Rachel Cusk
“Cusk is so sharply observant that it would probably be terrifying to meet her.”
Cusk is a very smart, talented, harsh British writer, and these stories are about people whose lives are loosely connected. Cusk is so sharply observant that it would probably be terrifying to meet her.