Five Quick Questions with Alexander Weinstein

Author of Children of the New World

Picador (2016)

Welcome to Five Quick Questions, The Ribbon’s ongoing mini-interview project. We’ll send the same five questions to authors on their book tours, in advance of their readings at our store. Alexander Weinstein reads at Literati on September 14th.


Q:What are you reading now? What books will you be taking with you on tour (other than your own)?

I’m presently reading The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy (edited by Johanna Sinisalo). It’s really incredible and deeply experimental writing. I’m discovering writers I’d never heard of before like: Pentti Holappa, Erno Paasilinna, and Tove Jansson. I’ll likely be bringing this on tour with me. Also Karl Ove Knausgaard’s book “My Struggle.” I’m reading Volume II of his huge work and loving it.

Which section are you most likely to be caught browsing in at Literati?

Fiction, with my eyes usually scanning for magical realist, fabulist, and speculative fiction writers that I’ve never heard of before.

If we could conjure up any writer, living or dead, to join you in conversation after the reading, who would it be? And what would you ask them?

There’s so many I’d want to choose. Can I select three? If so, I’d choose Jorge Luis Borges — and I’d ask him what he felt was the key to creating labyrinths inside of short stories. Italo Calvino — and I’d ask him how one best creates worlds which don’t exist. And Kurt Vonnegut — I’d ask him what he considered the most essential elements of fiction writing.

Is there a reading, anecdote, or piece of writing advice that’s stuck with you from any literary (or other) event you’ve attended?

Seeing Ross Gay read (anytime) is always a deep joy for me. I loved his reading at Literati this past spring. As far as advice, something that has been helpful to me as a writer is to have fun while reading, and to enjoy the time together with the audience.

Literati’s Book Ninjas never waste time online — we’re too busy reading! — but since we’re here: what article or website have you lately found worth wasting time on?

I’m not a big Googler or website reader. But I watch Netflix — I’m a recent fan of Black Mirror — what a brilliant show! And, I have to admit, this past year my son bought a video game called Just Cause 3 — it’s a guilty pleasure of mine to waste time playing it!