Ben Lerner II

Fiction, Poetry

Interviewed by: Angela Elam

Catalog Number(s): 20200501

Interview Year(s): 2019

MacArthur Fellow Ben Lerner discusses his third acclaimed novel, The Topeka School, a finalist for the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award. The multi-award winning fiction writer and poet was interviewed at the Kansas City Public Library on the Plaza during his residence as the fall 2019 UMKC Cockefair Chair Writer-in-Residence. A previous program featured a long reading from the novel; in this half of the presentation, he discusses his craft and some of the rich thematic elements of The Topeka School, including his exploration of masculinity, voice, the boundary between fact and fiction, and the decline of public speech. He also talks about the surprising number of renowned poets from his hometown of Topeka, Kansas, and reveals his transition from writing poetry to fiction.

(Photo by Catherine Barnett)