Durham Book Festival travels to Upstate New York to interview acclaimed author Jenny Offill about her new book Weather, which has been shortlisted for the 2020 Women’s Prize.
Lizzie Benson is a librarian who worries about the small stuff: the climate crisis, death, apocalypse, the atmosphere of gloom that pervades the present moment. But she is also a repository for the anxieties of others, frequently called upon to be an unofficial shrink by her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. In the midst of all this, her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. Sylvia has become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer her mail: a microcosm of our age of anxiety in which listeners fret about late capitalism and spotting potential fascists, all the while wondering whether angels need sleep or if the goodness of God is manifested in the natural world. Immersed in this chorus of questioning voices, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you’ve seen the flames beyond its walls.
Deeply profound and completely hilarious, Weather will be welcomed by Offill’s many fans and will evoke recognition and laughter in new readers too.
Jenny Offill is the author of the novels The Department of Speculation, Last Things, and four books for children.
Chaired by Claire Malcolm, New Writing North.
Buy Weather here.