We Want What We Want
Sat, Sept. 18, 2021 • 1:00pm PT • Live • Online
In conversation with Laura van den Berg
Populated with imperfect families, burned potential, and inescapable old flames, the thirteen stories in We Want What We Want are, each one, diamond-sharp—sparkling with pain, humor, and beauty.
In the mordantly funny "Money, Geography, Youth," Vanessa arrives home from a gap year volunteering in Ghana to find that her father is engaged to her childhood best friend. Unable to reconcile the girl she went to dances with in the eighth grade and the woman in her father's bed, Vanessa turns to a different old friendship for her own, unique diversion.
In the subversive "The Brooks Brothers Guru," Amanda drives to upstate New York to rescue her gawky cousin from a cult, only to discover clean-cut, well-dressed men living in a beautiful home, discussing the classics, and drinking sophisticated cocktails, moving her to wonder what freedoms she might willingly trade away for a life of such elegant comfort.
And in "The Universal Particular," Tamar welcomes her husband's young stepcousin into their home, imagining they are saving this young woman from Somalia by way of Stockholm, only to find their cool suburban life of potlucks and air-conditioning knocked askew in ways they cannot quite understand.
Alix Ohlin is the author of six books, including the novel Dual Citizens, which was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories, and many other places. She lives in Vancouver, where she is the Director of the UBC School of Creative Writing.
Born and raised in Florida, Laura van den Berg is the author of five works of fiction, including The Third Hotel, a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, which was one of Time Magazine’s 10 Best Fiction Books of 2020. She is the recipient of a Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, the Bard Fiction Prize, a PEN/O. Henry Award, and is a two-time finalist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. In 2021, Laura was awarded both the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fiction.
Alix Ohlin photo by Emily Cooper