Who: Julie Lekstrom Himes (MIKHAIL AND MARGARITA) & Jim Shepard (THE WORLD TO COME)
When: Saturday, March 18 at 7:00 pm
Where: La Rana Rossa - 154 Green Street
Tickets: $5 // buy online or in-store
“Without a doubt the most ambitious story writer in America,” according to The Daily Beast, Jim Shepard now delivers a new collection that spans borders and centuries with unrivaled mastery in The World to Come.
These ten stories ring with voices belonging to—among others—English Arctic explorers in one of history’s most nightmarish expeditions, a young contemporary American negotiating the shockingly underreported hazards of our crude-oil trains, eighteenth-century French balloonists inventing manned flight, and two mid-nineteenth-century housewives trying to forge a connection despite their isolation on the frontier of settlement. In each case the personal is the political as these characters face everything from the emotional pitfalls of everyday life to historic catastrophes on a global scale. In his fifth collection, Shepard makes each of these wildly various worlds his own, and never before has he delineated anything like them so powerfully.
“One of the most perceptive, intelligent, and fearless writers of fiction in America today.” —NPR
“His genius resides in his omnivorous curiosity and imaginative inventiveness [and his] stories have the strangeness and bell-like clarity of truth…a vision of literature that is, in its sideways fashion, legitimately unique.” —The Washington Post
Mikhail and Margarita is the story of a love triangle involving Mikhail Bulgakov, famed author of The Master and Margarita, an agent of Stalin’s secret police, and the bewitching Margarita has inescapable consequences for all three in 1930s Russia.
It is 1933 and Mikhail Bulgakov’s enviable career is on the brink of being dismantled. His friend and mentor, the poet Osip Mandelstam, has been arrested, tortured, and sent into exile. Meanwhile, a mysterious agent of the secret police has developed a growing obsession with exposing Bulgakov as an enemy of the state. To make matters worse, Bulgakov has fallen in love with the dangerously outspoken Margarita. Facing imminent arrest, infatuated with Margarita, he is inspired to write his masterpiece, The Master and Margarita, a satirical novel that is scathingly critical of power and the powerful.
Ranging between lively readings in the homes of Moscow’s literary elite to the Siberian Gulag, Mikhail and Margarita recounts a passionate love triangle while painting a portrait of a country with a towering literary tradition confronting a dictatorship that does not tolerate dissent. Margarita is a strong, idealistic woman, who is fiercely loved by two very different men, both of whom will fail in their attempts to shield her from the machinations of a regime hungry for human sacrifice. Himes launches a rousing defense of art and the artist during a time of systematic deception and she movingly portrays the ineluctable consequences of love for one of history’s most enigmatic literary figures.
“Mikhail and Margarita renders with astonishing authority and grace not only the oppressive monstrousness of the Soviet regime…but also the intensity and beauty of the love at the novel’s center, a love that’s all the more heartening because it’s generated by figures with such spectacular flaws.”—Jim Shepard, National Book Award nominated author
“In Mikhail and Margarita, Himes manages to perform the remarkable task of simultaneously paying homage to Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel and writing her own brilliant novel of love, betrayal and censorship. The result is an atmospheric, gripping, authoritative and deeply suspenseful narrative that utterly transports the reader.”—Margot Livesey, NYT bestselling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy and Mercury
Julie Lekstrom Himes’ short fiction has been published in Shenandoah, The Florida Review (Editor’s Choice Award 2008), Fourteen Hills (nominated for Best American Mysteries 2011), and elsewhere. This is her debut novel. She lives with her family in Marblehead, Massachusetts.
Jim Shepard is the author of seven novels and four previous story collections. He lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with his wife, three children, and three beagles. He teaches at Williams College.