Bookshop welcomes Santa Cruz native Miranda Popkey for a reading and signing of her searing new novel, Topics of Conversation. Popkey will be in conversation with award-winning local writer Elizabeth McKenzie.
For readers of Rachel Cusk, Lydia Davis, and Jenny Offill—a compact tour de force about sex, violence, and self-loathing from a ferociously talented new voice in fiction.
Topics of Conversation follows an unnamed female narrator from her first summer post-college to her years as a single mother in California’s Central Valley, always hungry for experience and hell bent on upending her life. The narrative unfolds in a series of conversations between women—the stories they tell one another; the stories they tell themselves—circling questions of desire, disgust, anger, envy, guilt, and despair. Topics of Conversation is a searing look at what it means to come of age, to grow up, and to love as a woman in this world. “There’s always someone, or so I’d been led to believe: on business or in the dog house or out on the proverbial prowl,” pronounces Miranda’s narrator. “That was the danger of being a woman.” At the center of her striking debut is this: what kinds of bad behavior are we still willing to permit?
“An intimate evisceration of our narrow imaginings of female sexuality, a brilliantly structured character study, and a book that repeatedly asks how women can fully trust their own desires when they’ve grown up steeped in the wrong stories. Its narrator is as skeptical of her own self-delusive fictions as she is of the stifling clichés and shallow fantasies about women's interior lives perpetuated by the wider culture.” —Karen Russell
“Penetrating, brutal, a brilliant new voice in contemporary fiction” —Ben Marcus
MIRANDA POPKEY was born in Santa Cruz, California in 1987. She graduated with a BA in Humanities from Yale in 2009 and with an MFA in Creative Writing from Washington University in St. Louis in 2018. She has written for, among other outlets, The New Republic, The New Yorker's Page-Turner blog, the Paris Review Daily, The Hairpin, The Awl, GQ, and New York magazine's The Cut.
ELIZABETH MCKENZIE is the author of The Portable Veblen, longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for fiction, winner of the California Book Award, and finalist for the Baileys Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and recorded for NPR’s Selected Shorts. Her collection, Stop That Girl, was short-listed for The Story Prize, and her novel MacGregor Tells the World was a Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and Library Journal Best Book of the year.
This free event will take place at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Chairs for open seating are usually set up about hour before the event begins. If you have any ADA accommodation requests, please email firstname.lastname@example.org by January 15th.