SAL/on air is a literary podcast featuring the best author talks from over thirty years of Seattle Arts & Lectures’ programming.
Elizabeth Strout is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge, the bestsellers Abide With Me, The Burgess Boys, My Name is Lucy Barton, and the award-winning Amy and Isabelle, all set in New England, all exploring the twists and turns of family dynamics, small-town gossip, and experiences of love, loss, and grief. “The pleasure in reading Strout,” writes Louisa Thomas for the New York Times, “comes from an intense identification with complicated, not always admirable, characters. […] There’s nothing mawkish or cheap here. There’s simply the honest recognition that we need to try to understand people, even if we can’t stand them.”
In this episode of SAL/on air, we hear from Strout, who joined us in January 2011 at Benaroya Hall for a talk on why fiction matters, followed by an interview with Linda Bowers, then-Executive Director of Seattle Arts & Lectures. Strout’s appearance begins with the tale of an ire-inducing comment at a wedding reception, then traces how, through reading John Updike’s Rabbit books and understanding the despicable Harry Angstrom, she learned to be a more compassionate person. With her signature dry New England wit, Strout shares stories from her puritanical childhood, her battle with writer’s block, and her belief that reading fiction is the one guaranteed way to “find out what it means to be human.”