Since Cheryl Pearl Sucher married a New Zealander in 1999, she has been living between two worlds: the Greater New York City area and the Hawkes Bay of New Zealand, two places that are about as far apart on the planet as one can travel. Though she has often felt torn between her very different lives, she has also felt that her life experience and artistic vision has been enhanced by living as both an insider and an outsider in such different but extraordinary places. This interview series is born out her experience between these worlds, and as a published fiction writer, bookseller, journalist, memoirist and avocational musical traveler.
In this edition, Cheryl talks to Sigrid Nunez about her new novel, The Friend, a moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog. When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building. While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog's care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.
Sigrid Nunez has published seven novels: A Feather on the Breath of God, Naked Sleeper, Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury, For Rouenna, The Last of Her Kind, Salvation City, and The Friend. Nunez is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Her work has also appeared in several anthologies, including four Pushcart Prize volumes and four anthologies of Asian-American literature. Among the many journals to which she has contributed are The New York Times, The Paris Review, Harper's, McSweeney's, The Believer, The Threepenny Review, Tin House, and O: The Oprah Magazine. A Feather on the Breath of God was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction and received the Association for Asian American Studies Award for best novel of the year. Mitz won the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Sigrid Nunez has also been the recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award, a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a residency from the Lannan Foundation. She was the 2000-2001 Rome Prize Fellow in Literature at the American Academy in Rome. In 2003, she was elected as a Literature Fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In spring 2005, she was the Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. Nunez has taught at Princeton, Amherst, Smith, Columbia, the New School, Boston University, and Brooklyn College, and has been a visiting writer or writer in residence at Washington University, Baruch, Vassar, and the University of California at Irvine, among others. She has also been on the faculty of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and of several other writers' conferences across the country.
Cheryl Pearl Sucher is an award-winning journalist, essayist, reviewer and fiction writer who lives between Cranbury, New Jersey and the Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Ka Hua E Wha: The Southernmost Jewish Community in the World, her contribution to Jewish Lives in New Zealand was published in 2012 by Random House NZ and she has been a frequent contributing book reviewer and feature writer for The NZ Sunday Star-Times and The NZ Listener. Her first novel, The Rescue of Memory, was published by Scribner so long ago she has forgotten the exact date and an excerpt from her second novel in progress, Lost Cities, was published in 2013 in Printer's Row, the Chicago Tribune's literary supplement. From July 2013 to April 2016 she was one of four presenter/interviewers for New Zealand Hawkes Bay Television's half hour interview program CHATROOM.