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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 of her experience between these worlds, and as a published fiction writer, bookseller, journalist, memoirist and avocational musical traveler.
In this edition, Cheryl talks to Valerie Sayers, author of The Age of Infidelity.
In the spirit of Muriel Spark and Walker Percy, The Age of Infidelity's eleven stories embrace the comic, the absurd, and the dead serious. Faithless parents betray their children, the young betray the old, and lovers betray each other--but somehow these characters cling to hope.
Aging white cheerleaders shout through an online megaphone, remembering a time when racial equality seemed almost possible; a teenager endures her father's abandonment as her mother's psychotic episodes pick up pace; an old couple on the lam from the Constitutional Guard of the future hides out in a garage reminiscent of our consumerist past. In an age many call post-religious, these characters want to believe in something, but they're not always sure what that something is.
Set in landscapes from the small-town South to New York City, from a parched Midwest to a deserted Dublin, these stories time-travel from our Jim Crow past to an imagined future of warehouses for the aged where robots do the nursing. With what the Washington Post describes as her "distinctive brutal elegance," Valerie Sayers writes playfully, powerfully, and musically. These stories form an album riffing on our age, the Age of Infidelity.
"The Age of Infidelity delivers us to the profoundly restorative pleasures of storytelling. Should we be afraid? Yes; terrified; utterly. And also giddy with joy that even now--through the most perilous, unpredictable days we have ever endured--stories still have magic potent enough to whelm our sensibilities, wild enough to free us from the limits of our own bodies, mesmerizing enough to quiet the whirling voices of isolation and despair. Bright and bold, infinitely compassionate and radically hopeful, Valerie Sayers prepares us for the Apocalypse, unconcealing a larger vision of our caring, curious, conscious humanity, the selves beyond the self, the multitudes within us."
--Melanie Rae Thon, author of The Voice of the River and The 7th Man
"Oracular in vision, The Age of Infidelity and Other Stories burns with furious energy. Sayers rips the seams out of the conventional fabric of story and storytelling to nimbly usher us into a liminal world where the real and imagined blur. Fearless, flawless, each story is a surprise. Each story is a gift."
--Gina Ochsner, author of The Hidden Letters of Velta B.
"Subversion is a word that has largely lost its sting, but at core it is about the destruction of worlds and overturning of orders. Sayers is truly a subversive writer, and The Age of Infidelity and Other Stories shows what happens when her blessedly wild spiritual imagination is unloosed. In her stories, worlds become and are unmade as we are serially exiled from times, places, family, lovers, and our truer selves, driven, willingly or not, in the search for a greater fidelity."
--Bryan Giemza, author of Irish Catholic Writers and the Invention of the American South
Valerie Sayers, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, is the author of six critically acclaimed novels including Brain Fever and The Powers. Among other honors, her fiction has received a National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship and two Pushcart Prizes for short stories. Her stories, essays, and reviews appear widely.
Cheryl Pearl Sucher is an award winning novelist, journalist and interviewer as well as one of McNally Jackson’s original gangsters. A recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, her first novel, The Rescue of Memory, was published by Scribner; and she hopes that her second, Alive Among the Ruins, will be in print before her cousin Julia turns 90. She lives between New Jersey and New Zealand and is the curator for our Between Two Worlds author conversation series, where she has interviewed Min Jin Lee, Sigrid Nuñez, Susan Choi and Sally Rooney, among others.