Welcome to the Book Marks Questionnaire, where we ask authors questions about the books that have shaped them.
This week, we spoke to the author of Something New Under the Sun, Alexandra Kleeman.
Book Marks: First book you remember loving?
Alexandra Kleeman: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, which I read every single day one summer when I was seven.
BM: Favorite re-read?
AK:The Unnameable by Samuel Beckett, which I read every year to remind myself of what consciousness is, and what it isn’t.
BM: What book do you think your book is most in conversation with?
AK: At the party it’s standing next to Didion’s Play It as it Lays, but the high anxiety level of my book is making it hard for it to follow the thread…
BM: A book that blew your mind?
AK: Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin.
BM: Last book you read?
AK: Imperium by Christian Kracht.
BM: A book that made you cry?
AK: The Emissary by Yoko Tawada, the gentlest and funniest and most heartbreaking post-apocalyptic novel that’s ever been writ. In a completely different way, the ending of Katie Kitamura’s Intimacies touched an unexpected and joyful nerve in me, resulting in the other kind of tears.
BM: What book from the past year would you like to give a shout-out to?
AK: The Things We’ve Seen by Augustin Fernandez Mallo, a feat of information sculpture!
BM: A book that actually made you laugh out loud?
AK: Mirror Shoulder Signal by Dorthe Nors—there’s one joke, specifically, in the back third that cracks me up whenever I think of it.
BM: What’s one book you wish you had read during your teenage years?
AK: Parakeet by Marie-Helene Bertino, an utterly humane, beautiful, weird, and accepting book.
BM: Favorite book to give as a gift?
AK: Girls Against God by Jenny Hval, Garments Against Women by Anne Boyer, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer are all books which I’ve given many times over and which contain a piece of my heart.
BM: Classic book on your To Be Read pile?
AK: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.
BM: Favorite book no one has heard of?
AK: The Activist by Renee Gladman, a perfect diamond preceding her more widely known Ravicka trilogy.
BM: Favorite book you were assigned in high school?
AK: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, my first encounter with magical realism and a book with the heft of mythology.
BM: Book(s) you’re reading right now?
AK: Trace by Lauret Savoy for the XR Writers Rebel book club, In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Color Line by George Hutchinson, With Teeth by the brilliant Kristen Arnett.
BM: Book you wish would be adapted for a film/tv show?
Alexandra Kleeman is the author of the novels Something New Under the Sun and You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine, as well as Intimations, a story collection. The winner of a Rome Prize, Berlin Prize, and the Bard Fiction Prize, her work has been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, and n+1, among others. She is an Assistant Professor at the New School and lives in Staten Island.
Alexandra Kleeman’s Something New Under the Sun is out now from Hogarth Press