What if there were Bangalore call centers, not for tech support, but to outsource your pain, depression, and guilt? Emotional engineering firms where specialists got paid $12 an hour, jobs in which the hazards included permanent brain damage? Or if there was a manual for alien impersonations of humans—Body Snatchers style? What if characters in video games had minds of their own, suffering from existential crises amidst violent battles and loss of faith in the player-god? These are just a few of the strange scenarios of the human condition crafted by Charles Yu in his latest collection of short stories Sorry Please Thank You. Often described by critics as meta, wacky, trippy, and vintage Douglas Adams—“very funny, usually proportional to the wildness of his inventions” (New York Times)—Yu does not disappoint his cult following built from his first two widely praised books.
Join us as Author Yu (as opposed to Protagonist Yu) lands at The Workshop to talk zombies, time travel, his full-time lawyering, and high-tech/high literary speculative fiction. Former editor of The Believer and Amazon Publishing editor Ed Park will let his sci-fi freak flag fly, sharing super secret, unpublished work he’s been hiding since his years penning the Los Angeles Times “Astral Weeks” sci-fi column. Leading Indian writer of speculative fiction Anil Menon will read from his cyber-punk short stories chronicling the exploits of terrorized pig farmers, bluffed up new physics, robot suitcases, and Milton Friedman cameos.
This event will be moderated by Whiting Writers’ Award Winner Alexander Chee.
Anil Menon‘s stories have appeared in a variety of spec-fic magazines including Albedo One, Apex Digest, Chiaroscuro, Interzone, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, New Genre and Strange Horizons. In 2009, he helped organize India’s first three-week, in-residence, speculative fiction writing workshop at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, followed by a second workshop in Bangalore in 2011. His debut novel, The Beast With Nine Billion Feet (Zubaan Books, India) was released in November 2009 and was shortlisted for the 2010 Vodafone-Crossword Children’s Fiction Award and the 2011 Carl Brandon Society’s Parallax Prize. Along with Vandana Singh, he is currently editing an anthology of speculative fiction stories loosely inspired by the Ramayana (Breaking the Bow, Zubaan Books, September 2012).
Ed Park is a founding editor of The Believer and the former editor of the Voice Literary Supplement, and has worked as an editor at the Poetry Foundation. His articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Bookforum, and other publications. From 2007 to 2011, he wrote a science fiction column, Astral Weeks, for the Los Angeles Times. His novel, Personal Days, was published by Random House in May 2008 and was a finalist for the PEN Hemingway Award, The John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize, and the Asian American Literary Award. It was named one of TIME’s Top Ten Fiction Books of the year and one of The Atlantic‘s top ten pop culture moments of the decade.
Charles Yu is the author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, which was named one of the best books of the year by Time magazine. He received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award for his story collection Third Class Superhero and the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award. His work has been published in The New York Times, Playboy, and Slate, among other periodicals. Yu lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Michelle, and their two children.
Alexander Chee was born in Rhode Island, and raised in South Korea, Guam and Maine. He is a recipient of the 2003 Whiting Writers’ Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in Fiction and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony , the VCCA, Ledig House, the Hermitage and Civitella Ranieri . His first novel, Edinburgh (Picador, 2002), is a winner of the Michener Copernicus Prize, the AAWW Lit Award and the Lambda Editor’s Choice Prize, and was a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year and a Booksense 76 selection. He lives in New York City and blogs at Koreanish. His second novel, The Queen of the Night, is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
$5 suggested donation