Myla Goldberg is the author of the bestselling Bee Season, which was a New York Times Notable Book for 2000, winner of the Harold U. Ribalow Prize, winner of the Borders New Voices Prize, and a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN award, the NYPL Young Lions award, and the Barnes & Noble Discover award. It has been adapted to film and widely translated. Her essay collection, Times Magpie, explores all her favorite places in Prague, where she lived for a year in the early nineties. Her novel Wicketts Remedy grew out of her fascination with the 1918 influenza epidemic and explores the nature of human ambition and the frailty of individual and collective memory. Her third novel, The False Friend, was published in 2010. Her short stories have appeared in McSweeneys, Harpers and Failbetter, among other places. Her book reviews have appeared in The New York Times and Bookforum. She teaches, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, cartoonist Jason Little, and their daughters.
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A Conversation with Myla Goldberg about Wickett's Remedy
Wickett's Remedy is such a departure from your first published novel, Bee Season. What sparked your interest in the influenza epidemic of 1918?
About five years ago, I came across a newspaper article that listed the five most deadly plagues of all time and the 1918 flu epidemic was one of them. I consider myself an amateur disease nerd and I'd never heard of the 1918 flu, which meant that I immediately had to learn everything about it that I could.
What kind of research did you do for the book?
Whatever I could think of! I read loads of books and articles about influenza, the 1918 epidemic, and the general time period. I read period fiction and newspapers and magazines. I visited Boston; I walked down Washington Street and all around Southie. The only place I wasn't able to get to was Gallups Island.
The structure of the novel includes primary sources, various narrative strands, and a compelling chorus of the dead. How did you piece together the novel's elaborate structure and where did the idea for a chorus commenting on the action of the novel come from?
I'm a big fan of books that tell their stories using ...
Blood at the Root
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