Aug 18, 2011
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Author Francine Prose talks with Claudia Cragg her latest novel set in the aftermath of 9/11. My New American Life offers a vivid, darkly humorous, bitingly real portrait of a particular moment in history, when a nation's dreams and ideals gave way to a culture of cynicism, lies, and fear. Beneath its high comic surface, the novel is a more serious consideration of immigration, of what it was like to live through the Bush-Cheney years, and of what it means to be an American.
The protagonist, Lula, is a 26-year old woman from Albania living surreptitiously in New York City on an expiring tourist visa, hoping to make a better life for herself in America. When she lands a job as caretaker to Zeke, a rebellious high school senior in suburban New Jersey, it seems that the security, comfort, and happiness of the American dream may finally be within reach. Her new boss, Mister Stanley, an idealistic college professor turned Wall Street executive, assumes that Lula is a destitute refugee of the Balkan Wars. He enlists his childhood friend Don Settebello, a hotshot lawyer who prides himself on defending political underdogs, to straighten out Lula's legal situation. In true American fashion, everyone gets what he wants and feels good about it.
But is it possible that Lula’s new American life is not so different from her old Albanian one?
Francine Prose, as described by
Kate Bollick in
The Atlantic Monthly. “When
Francine Prose finished her education in 1969 she took one look
around, decided writing was the only thing she was good at, and
never turned back. Thirty years later she has written nearly twenty
books (among them novels, children's books, novellas, and
short-story collections) and has contributed stories, articles, and
reviews to almost every major American magazine and newspaper.
She's also taught at prestigious writing programs (such as Sarah
Lawrence and Warren Wilson), had two sons, and is currently an