Award-Winning Author Paul La Farge on His New Novel, The Night Ocean
Award-winning author and New Yorker contributor Paul La Farge discusses The Night Ocean, his new novel about secrets and scandals, psychiatry and pulp fiction, which was inspired by the lives of H.P. Lovecraft and his circle. The Night Ocean follows the lives of some extraordinary people: Lovecraft, an influential American horror writer of the 20th century, whose stories continue to win new acolytes, even as his racist views provoke new critics; Barlow, a seminal scholar of Mexican culture who killed himself after being blackmailed for his homosexuality (and who collaborated with Lovecraft on the story "The Night Ocean"); his student, future Beat writer William S. Burroughs; and L.C. Spinks, a kindly Canadian appliance salesman and science-fiction fan—the only person who knows the origins of The Erotonomicon, purported to be the intimate diary of Lovecraft himself.
The Night Ocean has already been selected as a must-read by New York Post, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus and was named one of the best books of March, 2017 by Amazon, the BBC, Vulture, and The Chicago Review of Books.
"The Night Ocean is a book full of pleasures... Dashing, playful and cleverly imagined, “The Night Ocean” emerges as an inexhaustible shaggy monster, part literary parody, part case study of the slipperiness of narrative and the seduction of a good story. Sunday New York Times book review, March 7, 2017.
Leonard Lopate Show, NPR interview on March 8.
“The breadth of La Farge’s research and the specificity of his historical details are impressive: we enter the worlds of science-fiction fandom, internet trolls, literary hoaxes, and ancient Mexican civilizations as [he] deftly weaves in famous figures like H.P Lovecraft, Isaac Asimov, and William S. Burroughs. Only a virtuoso could pull off a story so intricately plotted and so full of big ideas about morality and truth…La Farge is this virtuoso, folding stories inside stories with ease…. An effortlessly memorable novel.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Magnificent... An impossible, irresistible novel, a love letter to the unlovable that speaks the unspeakable.” — Lev Grossman, author of the Magicians trilogy
Paul La Farge is the author of four novels: The Night Ocean, The Artist of the Missing, Haussmann, or the Distinction and Luminous Airplanes; and a book of imaginary dreams, The Facts of Winter. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Bard Fiction Prize, and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. He was a fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library in 2013-14.
Author photo credit Carol Shadford