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Jennifer Egan’s new novel, “The Candy House,” is a sequel to her Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Visit From the Goon Squad.” A few characters appear in both books, but the novels are also united by Egan’s structural approach – an inventive one that in “Goon Squad” chapter written as a PowerPoint presentation, and in “The Candy House”, a chapter written as a long series of concise guidelines to a spy.
In this week’s podcast, Egan talks about the new book and why she likes to experiment with form.
“In my opinion, the novel was invented as a hungry, greedy form that could absorb all other kinds of discourse,” says Egan. “So in the earliest novels: graphics, letters, legal documents. As a fiction writer, one of the great things about working with the novel is that everything is up for grabs. If I can turn it into fiction, I will, and I look around for those opportunities all the time. It’s not easy to do it because the danger is that you look like you’re using gimmickry. And what I find is that the only time a radical structural form works is when I can find a story that can only be told That way. It is a lot of waiting and a lot of trial and error.”
Also in this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter discusses the work of Russian novelist Vladimir Sorokin; and Alexandra Jacobs and Molly Young talk about books they’ve recently reviewed. John Williams is the landlord.
Here are the books discussed by The Times critics this week:
We’d love to hear what you think about this episode, and about the Book Review podcast in general. You can send them to books.†