I attended two different book events this week: one for Shanthi Sekaran’s debut novel, The Prayer Room; the other event for Yiyun Li’s novel, The Vagrants. Both were insightful for me, since I was able to see how authors organize their book events differently. Of course, the venues weren’t the same either: at Book Inc., Sekaran’s event was held in the back of the bookstore, a somewhat more cozy atmosphere. For Li, she held her event at the public library in one of the community rooms, so it was more like a lecture hall.
Shanthi Sekaran appeared to be nervous since it’s her first book tour; however, the excerpts she read from her book were promising and strong. I briefly chatted with her, and it was flattering that she recognized me from goodreads. I wish her the best of luck on the rest of her tour.
Yiyun Li read fewer excerpts from her book, but nonetheless they were also captivating. The story seems to lean more towards political themes from China, so it may take me some time to read through the book. I was more interested in the tips she was giving to the audience during the Q&A; the bits I liked the most was about her “literary heritage” (she aspires to write like an Irish author), and about how “a novel is like a marriage, while a short story is like an affair.” Both insights made me think more about my own background, and what I seek with writing. What kind of literary heritage do I have? Have I even established it yet? It also amused me when Li mentioned that one of her favorite hobbies is eavesdropping.
I’m looking forward to reading both books and also attending more book events in the future.