David Vann was born in the Aleutian Islands and spent his childhood in Ketchikan, Alaska. He is an internationally bestselling author whose work has been translated into nineteen languages. He is the winner of fifteen prizes, including France's Prix Médicis étranger, Spain's Premi Llibreter, the Grace Paley Prize, a California Book Award, the AWP Nonfiction Prize, and France's Prix des lecteurs de L'Express. His books - Legend of a Suicide, Caribou Island, Dirt, A Mile Down, and Last Day on Earth - have appeared on seventy best books of the year lists in a dozen countries. He has written for the Atlantic, Esquire, Outside, Men's Journal, McSweeney's, the Sunday Times, the Observer, the Sunday Telegraph, and many others, and he has appeared in documentaries for the BBC, Nova, National Geographic, and CNN.
A former Guggenheim fellow, Wallace Stegner fellow, John L'Heureux fellow, and National Endowment for the Arts fellow, he is a professor at the University of Warwick in England.
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David Vann talks about his novel Aquarium, his attraction to fish, writing from the viewpoint of a 12-year-old girl and why he structured this full length novel like a novella
Your new novel, Aquarium, is told from the point of view of Caitlin, a twelve year old girl. What was it like writing through her eyes?
The story is told by Caitlin twenty years later, when she's thirty-two, and she's able to reflect on her difficult relationship with her mother and the nature of forgiveness, and these are my own concerns now. My mother and I had difficult times, perhaps mostly because of my father's suicide, and we've both been looking for ways to forgive each other and understand each other better, which is perhaps the same thing. So in writing Caitlin, I was writing myself. I loved fish when I was twelve. I had eight fish tanks scattered throughout the house. So it was easy to capture Caitlin's love of fish, and her way of seeing all of Seattle as if underwater. To the young Caitlin, Seattle is a giant starfish lying on the ocean floor.
Your previous fictionLegend of a Suicide, Dirt, Caribou Island, and Goat Mountainare portraits of families in sometimes violent dissolution. This novel is...
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