Elizabeth Gaffney is a native of Brooklyn, NY. She graduated with honors from Vassar College and holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Brooklyn College; she also studied philosophy and German at Ludwig-Maximillian University in Munich.
Her first novel, Metropolis, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, was published in 2005. Her second novel, When the World Was Young, was published in 2014. Her stories have appeared in many magazines, and she has translated four books from German.
Gaffney has been a resident artist at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony and the Blue Mountain Center. She also teaches fiction and serves as the editor at large of the literary magazine A Public Space.
She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the neurologist Alex Boro, and their daughters.
Elizabeth Gaffney's website
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A Conversation with Elizabeth Gaffney about Metropolis
What was the inspiration behind Metropolis? How did you
come up with this particular story and these characters?
My first two decisions were to write about a time different from my own and to take up a male character as a protagonist. I wanted to learn something while I was working on the novel and to get away from the limitations of my own point of view. Where I stuck close to home was in the settingNew York City. I was born here and have lived here most of my life. In fact, I was interested in the idea of using the city as one of the main characters right from the beginning. The title was one of the first things to come to me. I chose a young, unlucky, struggling immigrant character for my hero because I think everyone can relate to the difficulty of creating an identity. It's the biggest job we human beings have during that trying period of puberty and adolescencethat's why coming-of-age novels are so universal.
By picking the 1870s as my time period, I was trying to make the book a coming-of-age novel for the city and for the nation, too. This was a time of grand infrastructure projects that still shape our urban landscapes ...
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