Jennifer Egan: A Visit from the Goon Squad
James Naughtie and readers talk to American author Jennifer Egan about her groundbreaking novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won the Pulitzer prize for fiction in 2011.
Made up of 13 chapters each told from a different person's point of view, Jennifer Egan's experimental novel A Visit from the Goon Squad interlocks the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist's couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Bennie's star in the music business, meanwhile, is on the wane.
Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other's pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths cross theirs. The stories travel between New York, Naples and Kenya, and span several decades, from the seventies punk scene to the near future; they are in turn hilarious and moving. Jennifer describes the stories as being standalone, and the styles range from a pastiche of celebrity journalism to a PowerPoint presentation. The Pulitzer judges called the book "an inventive investigation of growing up and growing old in the digital age, displaying a big-hearted curiosity about cultural change at warp speed".
Presenter : James Naughtie
Interviewed guest : Jennifer Egan
Producer : Dymphna Flynn
January's Bookclub choice : In Siberia by Colin Thubron (1999).