JULIA FIERRO discusses her new novel THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER, with J. RYAN STRADAL, MEG HOWERY and GABRIEL PACKARD
Event on 2017-06-28 19:30:00
The Gypsy Moth Summer (St. Martin's Press)
Julia Fierro has become a New York literary scene staple as the founder of the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, which has been dubbed a “top alternative to MFA programs” (Poets & Writers). Her first novel Cutting Teeth debuted as one of the most anticipated novels of 2014, and received rave reviews from The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, and Oprah.com. With her sophomore novel, The Gypsy Moth Summer, Fierro turns her masterful storytelling to the fictional community of Avalon Island, loosely based on Long Island, in 1992 and the defining summer that will set the course for tragedy in hierarchical society.
The summer the Gypsy Moths descended, an even more toxic pest was spreading its way through the people of Avalon. East Avalon is the upper crust, built with generations of military engineers who had exchanged their Navy whites and blues for suits and offices, while West Avalon families hailed from generations of factory workers.
In the summer of 1992, Maddie LaRosa tries to figure out how to survive high school and its queen bee, Bitsy, and worries about maintaining her East Avalon persona and picture-perfect family life. Meanwhile, Leslie Day Marshall, daughter of Avalon Island’s most established waspy monarch, has just moved back home with her husband, Jules, who is black, and their kids. Their move from a one bedroom apartment in “the City” to “The Castle” isn’t as big as the change from the melting pot of New York City to the homogeneity of East Avalon. Jules and Leslie’s presence triggers tensions, romances, and unusual alliances that simmer all summer and lead to violence that leaves the community atomized forever.
Praise for Gypsy Moth Summer
“The Gypsy Moth Summer plunges the reader into a hazy, hot daydream of hidden truth, scandal, and racial prejudice. With bold strokes, Julia Fierro creates a vivid world where privilege and class are merely a veneer to distract from the cracks beneath the surface.”– Jodi Picoult, NYT bestselling author of Small Great Things and Leaving Time
"In her hugely engaging novel, The Gypsy Moth Summer, Julia Fierro brings a light touch to bear on the most important subjects: social class, race, family, generational conflict, anger and forgiveness. It is a sterling example of how fiction can entertain us and at the same time inspire us to think about the things we urgently need to consider, now more than ever."—Francine Prose, author of Mister Monkey
"This novel shakes and stirs family saga and summer romance upside down. The irresistible story-telling brings to life each character and Fierro doesn't just observe, she knows. She gives us a particular and narrow neighborhood, and like all great novelists, she gives us the world"—Amy Bloom, bestselling author of Away
"What kind of brilliant writer can go from Cutting Teeth, a bitingly funny and inventive debut about modern day NYC parents to a 1992 island world that is so real and so alive, that you can feel the brush of gypsy moth wings and the longing, and simmering danger of a multiracial family disrupting a white conservative island? Masterpiece is often a word that is casually tossed around, but it fits Fierro’s work, which is so richly alive, so poetic, it is truly Shakespearean tragedy. I had a sense of wonder that someone could craft a novel as perfect as this one, but then I remembered this is a Julia Fierro novel, so the only answer to that wonder is of course, of course, of course, she could—and she did"—Caroline Leavitt, author of the New York Times bestsellers Pictures of You, Is This Tomorrow, and Cruel Beautiful World
"The Gypsy Moth Summer gathers all of life in its wonderfully confident reach: the buzzing energy of youth, the fraught hope of adulthood, the remorseless clarity of old age. Fierro's thoroughly entertaining storytelling doesn’t prevent her from taking on weighty subjects like race and class in America or delivering a rebuke of the lives of privilege that she chronicles with such anthropological accuracy. We are deeply invested in these characters around whom an air of tragic destiny hangs, and the pages fly by as the book hurtles toward its devastating conclusion." —Matthew Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves
"Julia Fierro’s marvelous The Gypsy Moth Summer is a novel to slowly savor, settling in with her characters as you would old friends, cherishing every sentence, every turn of plot. Rarely does one encounter a novel this entertaining, which also speaks to the complicated truths about race and class at the heart of our country’s tangled history."—Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year
“Julia Fierro's The Gypsy Moth Summer is a deeply satisfying tale of family, first love, and home. The world of Avalon Island is lush, inviting, and deeply complicated, full of the same contradictions that we grapple with day to day. It's a meditation on what makes a community and a reminder that the past is never past and home is a place that is both beautiful and heartbreaking. “—Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman
"Julia Fierro's second book is a luminous, urgent novel about the forces that shape us all: where we grow up; whether we are loved by our parents or understood by our peers; how class, power, and money may cast our fates. With gathering awe, I found in Avalon Island’s richly depicted society a microcosm of our own. I rooted for the lovers at the thrumming heart of The Gypsy Moth Summer with the hungry turn of every page"—Sophie McManus, author of The Unfortunates
Julia Fierro is the author of the novels The Gypsy Moth Summer and Cutting Teeth. Her work has been published in The Millions, Poets & Writers, Buzzfeed, Glamour, and other publications, and she has been profiled in The Observer and The Economist. A graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, Julia founded The Sackett Street Writers' Workshop in 2002, a creative home to more than 3,500 writers in NYC, Los Angeles and Online. SSWW was named Best Writing Classes by The Village Voice, Time Out NY, and Best MFA-Alternative by Poets & Writers. Julia lives in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.
J. Ryan Stradal edits the fiction section of The Nervous Breakdown. His writing has appeared in The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and McSweeney’s: The Goods, among other places. Born and raised in Minnesota, he now lives in Los Angeles and has worked as a TV producer, notably for the History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers and Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch.
Meg Howrey is the author of the novels The Wanderers, The Cranes Dance, and Blind Sight. She is also the coauthor, writing under the pen-name Magnus Flyte, of the New York Times Bestseller City of Dark Magic and City of Lost Dreams. Her non-fiction has appeared in Vogue and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She currently lives in Los Angeles. Meg was a professional dancer who performed with the Joffrey Ballet and City Ballet of Los Angeles, among others. She made her theatrical debut in James Lapine's Twelve Dreams at Lincoln Center, and received the 2001 Ovation Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her role in the Broadway National Tour of Contact.
The Painted Ocean is Gabriel Packard’s debut novel. It was a recipient of a K. Blundell Trust Award and was named to the W.H. Smiths’ Fresh Talent series by Britain’s largest bookstore chain. National Book Award-winner Colum McCann has described it as “a fearless tour de force,” Metcalf Award-winner Claire Messud called it “an unsettling and unforgettable book” and Whiting Award-winner Said Sayrafiezadeh said it is “dreamlike in its intensity, epic in its scope.” Gabriel Packard is the associate director of the Hunter College MFA Program. His journalism has appeared in dozens of publications worldwide, including Poets & Writers, The Village Voice and New York Magazine. After graduating from Oxford University with a B.A. in English, Gabriel moved to New York City to work as a freelance reporter and editor. He has been nominated for a New American Voices Award and is a recipient of a Hertog Fellowship and the Miriam Weinberg Richter Award.
Julia Fierro photo by Rubidium Wu
J. Ryan Stradal photo by Anna Pasquarella
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