23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan was born in Chicago in 1962 and grew up in San Francisco. She studied English literature at the University of Pennsylvania and St. John’s College in Cambridge. Following her studies, she decided to begin writing and worked as a journalist.

She wrote short stories and received much acclaim for her 1995 début novel »The Invisible Circus«. At the heart of the novel is the 18-year-old Phoebe O’Connor, whose life is defined by the political and familial tensions of the 1960s. She leaves San Francisco and travels to Europe to uncover the truth about her sister’s death. Jennifer Egan uses interwoven flashbacks to portray a Californian family as well as an American author’s perspective on the »German Autumn«. Jennifer Egan’s writing is characterized by, among other things, the authenticity of her characters and the diversity of her tone. She creates an atmosphere of insecurity and plays with both her characters’ and readers’ perceptions by allowing reality to blur.

Egan’s third novel, »The Keep« [2006], became a bestseller: Danny is addicted to modern forms of communication, his cousin Howard wants to establish an internet-free »Hotel of Silence« in a castle in Eastern Europe in which the guests are limited to their own sensory perceptions. Danny allows himself to be roped into the project. Repressed memories reawaken amidst the old walls and dungeons. And, at the same time in America, a convict is telling the story of these two cousins – readers find the ground under their feet become increasingly unsteady. »A Visit from the Goon Squad« [2010] takes the reader on a fascinating journey of memory via New York and Naples to Africa. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 and was named one of the most important works of the early 21st century by the BBC in 2015. The novel »Manhattan Beach« [2017] is set in New York in the 1930s/40s and is about the first female US naval diver and her search for clues to her missing father in the criminal underworld. The characters from »A Visit from the Goon Squad« reappear in Egan’s most recent novel, »The Candy House« [2022]. Here, Egan examines how the internet and social media impact both society and the individual.

In addition to writing novels and short stories, Jennifer Egan also writes for »The New Yorker« as well as for the »New York Times Magazine« and teaches creative writing at Columbia University. She instigated a lawsuit against Donald Trump in 2018 while she was president of PEN America. She lives with her husband and sons in New York.

Date: 2022