In Jean Thompson's latest novel, The Humanity Project, humanity isn't doing so well and could use some help. Sean is a wayward carpenter whose bad luck with women turns into even worse luck: He's addicted to painkillers, and he and his teenage son Conner are facing eviction. Linnea is the teen survivor of a school shooting who travels west to California to live with a father she barely knows. Mrs. Foster is a wealthy woman who's taken to living with feral cats, and whose "Humanity Project" just might take a chance on people who thought they were out of luck.
Last week, a book called "The Orphan Master's Son" was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Adam Johnson's novel imagines what life is like for citizens of North Korea. I spoke with Adam Johnson last year about his book. And to mark his Pulitzer, we'd like to revisit that interview. In it, Johnson explained that as part of his research, he actually managed to finagle a visit to North Korea. He said his government minders maintained tight control over his itinerary but they couldn't hide everything.
When Superstorm Sandy hit New York City last fall, the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, like most everything else, totally shut down. It was a week before power returned to FSG, according to Brian Gittis, a senior publicist. When he got back to his office, he began sorting through galleys — advance copies of books. And one of them caught him off guard.
Its cover had an illustration of the Manhattan skyline half-submerged in water.
"It was definitely sort of a Twilight Zone moment," Gittis recalls.