The faculty roster for Sirenland 2012 is now set. Dani Shapiro will be teaching for the sixth year, while Jim Shepard will be returning for the fourth time. They will be joined by Susan Orlean, who will be teaching a workshop in creative non-fiction.
Applications for Sirenland 2012 will be accepted from September 15, until October 30, 2011.
This is the official Sirenland coffee mug; it’s handmade in Positano, and every one of them is unique. (I know, because I compared them all.) The design is based on the original drawing by world famous and highly controversial illustrator (he of the famous New Yorker ‘Obama fist-bump cover,’ etal.) Barry Blitt. We asked Barry if he’d be willing to go to Italy and personally redraw the illustration on each of 200 coffee mugs, and he said, “sure, for like a thousand dollars apiece.” So we said to hell with that and we rounded up some Italian children to copy the image at a fraction of the price and we passed out the cups as party favors to the 30 lucky writers who attended Sirenland this year.
Many Sirenlanders from previous years have complained that they didn’t get mugs, only the “lousy T-shirts” we used to give out. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Belfer. And you’ve asked how you could get the mugs. Well, we’ve still got more than 100 mugs sitting in a box in Positano (and for sale at Emporio Le Sirenuse). But if we shipped them all over here, repacked them and shipped them back out to you it would have been cheaper to send Barry Blitt to your house with a sharpie to draw pictures on your existing chinaware. So, if you want to get one of those mugs here’s what you have to do:
1.) Reapply to Sirenland for next year.
2.) Get accepted back.
3.) Come back to Italy and pick one up.
Can’t wait? Here’s the alternative. We do have mugs for sale with the ORIGINAL Barry Blitt (signed!) drawing on them. I’m told that each one was meticulously copied by a robot. Though I may have misunderstood that part.
Proceeds from the sale of these mugs will be used to make more mugs. It’s a beautiful system. Until then, I’ll be drinking my morning coffee from my Italian Sirenland mug.
This slideshow is a work in progress. We’ll be adding new photos every day. Double click the image viewer to get to larger images.
Karen Thompson Walker was chosen as the 2011 Sirenland Fellow on the strengh of her unpublished manuscript, The Age of Miracles. Apparently we’re not the only ones who were blown away by her writing. Several weeks after being named as Sirenland Fellow, Random House snapped up her book. Executive Editorial Director, Kate Medina said, “We fell in love with this stunningly original and beautifully written book, and with the author, Karen Thompson Walker.”
Karen is a graduate of UCLA and the Columbia MFA program. She is also an editor at Simon & Schuster, where she edits both fiction and nonfiction. She was born and raised in San Diego and now lives in Brooklyn.
She wrote The Age of Miracles over the past three years, writing for an hour each morning before heading out to her day job. The novel centers on an eleven-year-old girl and her family who wake one morning in their modest suburban home in California, to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. Set against this mysterious looming global disaster, The Age of Miracles unfolds a suspenseful family drama, a moving story of the lows and highs of a girl’s adolescence, and a poignant story of first love, beautifully mapping the effects of catastrophes big and small on the lives of ordinary people. The book will be published in 2012.
Sirenland is delighted to announce that this year’s visiting writer is Andrew Sean Greer. He is the bestselling author of The Story of a Marriage, which The New York Times has called an “inspired, lyrical novel,” and The Confessions of Max Tivoli, which was named a best book of 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune. His stories have appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, and other national publications, and have been anthologized most recently in The Book of Other People and Best American Nonrequired Reading. He is the recipient of the PEN/O’Henry Prize for Short Fiction, the Northern California Book Award, the California Book Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Public Library.
Bad Juju & Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem by Sirenland’s Jonathan Woods (2008 & 2009 sessions) was a featured book at the 2010 Texas Book Festival. And Jonathan was one of four writers included in The Onion’s Austin A.V. coverage of the Festival (the other writers being Jennifer Egan, Jeff Lindsey and Philipp Meyer): “The Franzen-O-Meter: Ranking the authors of the Texas Book Festival.”
Bad Juju made several best-of-2010 lists including that of the Barnes and
Noble mystery book club blog Ransom Notes, where blogger Jed Ayres wrote: “The fever dream state produced by sampling several stories in a row from newcomer Woods is something you may or may not look forward to. I do. I relish the funhouse distortion it puts on the world when I come up for air. A pinch of Charles Bukowski, a dash of Hunter S. Thompson and a heaping spoonful of David Lynch might describe the aesthetic. Might. Jonathan Woods has a unique voice. You’ve got to read “Incident in the Tropics.””
Most recently the award-winning critic Jon L. Breen reviewed Bad Juju in his Jury Box column in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine: “These 19 tales of erotic or absurdist noir are lively, imaginative, sometimes parodic, often darkly funny, accurately likened on the back-cover blurb to opium dreams and Quentin Tarantino. The final novella, “No Way, José,” is especially reminiscent in style and mood of Pulp Fiction. Exotic backgrounds abound, with “Incident in the Tropics,” equally damning of the Ugly American and the unscrupulous local, a strong example. Not my usual cup of tea, but it’s all executed with enormous skill by a writer of formidable talent.”
And last but not least Jonathan just informed us that his crime novel A Death in Mexico is forthcoming from New Pulp Press in April 2012. An excerpt from A Death in Mexico was just published in the London, UK-based webzine Beat the Dust.
More about Jonathan and Bad Juju at: www.southernnoir.com