Short story writer Nathan Englander shares insight on art of fiction

American novelist Nathan Englander launched this year’s Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writer Series with his new book, “Dinner at the Center of the Earth,” which has been out for two weeks.

Englander also discussed one of his older books, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.” Englander visited St. Edward’s University Sept. 18 in the Mabee Ballrooms as part of his book tour. He talked not only about his book, but the creative writing process as well.

The lecture opened with Englander addressing the doubt that many students come across of ‘how do I become a writer?’ He assured the audience that becoming a writer doesn’t mean you have to have a book out, it merely means that you are able to write.

“It’s a very freeing moment when you realize that it’s just the act,” Englander said. “You can register for a course and be a writer. So with that being said, I license you all as writers.”

He continued his visit by reading the first couple pages of “Dinner at the Center of the Earth.” The book, which includes 12 different characters and storylines, has been described as extremely political and extremely relevant.  

“The book is so political,” Englander said. “ This book took near twenty years, not to write, but to be ready to write it.”

Englander has previously been nominated and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for his book “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” in 2013. He is currently Distinguished Writer-In-Residence at New York University, per his website.  

Englander mentioned the elements and the craft of creative writing to help the students that attended the lecture. His biggest focus was on using his book tour as a moment to teach students what knowledge and tips he has of creative fiction writing.

Professors and students were then able to ask questions about the book and what his writing process for the books. They asked about the style of his writing, what time meant in relation to his writing and how time management played into his creativity as well.

“I did it because I’m not allowed to do it, it’s how I wanted to open those behaviors,” Englander said of the different point of views of writing. “I decided to write second person because I want to and I’m going to do everything I want in this book.”

Englander provided the students and professors with feedback and an introduction to his new novel, showing that the action of writing is a possible thing for students at St. Edward’s.