Antonya Nelson


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Many authors dislike being asked whether their fiction is autobiographical. Not Antonya Nelson. She believes the question is bound up in issues of authenticity in fiction, and she has an answer: “In the way that dreams are real to the dreamer, the fiction is real to me.”

This Writers On the Fly interview was filmed in October 2010 when Nelson visited Iowa City to read from her novel, Bound, at Prairie Lights. She discusses why she tends to be a fan of individual works rather than of authors (making exceptions for William Trevor and Eudora Welty), as well as what sort of story she’s interested in writing but hadn’t tackled at the time of the interview.

Nelson calls writing a “sacred discipline,” and her practice of that discipline has led to seven short story collections and four novels. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship; five of her books have been New York Times Book Review Notable Books.Her most recent work as of this writing is Funny Once, a short story collection released in the summer of 2014.