Idra Novey & Yiyun Li -- Take What You Need: A Novel
By Labyrinth Books
In her new novel, Idra Novey zeroes in on the joys and difficulty of family, the ease with which we let distance mute conflict, and the power we can draw from creative pursuits. Please join us for a conversation between the author and fellow novelist Yiiyun Li. Set in the Allegheny Mountains of Appalachia, Take What You Need traces the parallel lives of Jean, and her beloved but estranged stepdaughter, Leah, who’s sought a clean break from her rural childhood. In Leah’s urban life with her young family, she has revealed little about Jean, how much she misses her stepmother’s hard-won insights and joyful lack of inhibition. But with Jean’s death, Leah must return to sort through what’s been left behind. What Leah discovers is staggering: Jean has filled the house with giant sculptures she’s welded from scraps of the area’s industrial history. There’s also a young man now living in the house who’s played an unknown role in Jean’s last years and in her art Passionate and resonant, Take What You Need explores the continuing mystery of the people we love most, and what can be built from what others have discarded—art, unexpected friendship, a new contentment of self.
Idra Novey is also the author of the acclaimed novels Those Who Knew Her and Ways to Disappear. Her poetry collections include Exit, Civilian; The Next Country; and Clarice: The Visitor. Her works as a translator include Clarice Lispector’s novel The Passion According to G.H. and a co-translation with Ahmad Nadalizadeh of Iranian poet Garous Abdolmalekian, Lean Against This Late Hour. She teaches fiction at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts. Yiyun Li’s most recent book is The Book of Goose. Her previous novels are Must I Go; Where Reasons End; Kinder Than Solitude; A Thousand Years of Good Prayers; The Vagrants; and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl; and the memoir Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. Like Novey, she teaches creative writing at Princeton. This event is co-presented by Labyrinth Books and the Princeton Public Library and cosponsored by Princeton University’s Humanities Council and Lewis Center for the Arts.