What an amazing night at the 5 Under 35 National Book Foundation National Book Awards celebration last night at powerHouse Arena!
Interviewing Carrie Brownstein—Portlandia star and co-creator, musician, writer, fantastic person—was just one of the highlights of last night’s National Book Award ‘5 Under 35’ Awards.
Carrie was charming and we laughed about the word “artist” and how hard it is so take yourself seriously. She said she has always thought of herself as a writer foremost, and feels most comfortably defining herself as such, which was very interesting because she’s accomplished so much as a musician and actor as well.
I also had so much fun interviewing the 5 nominees—Molly Antopol (The UnAmericans), NoViolet Bulawayo (We Need New Names), Amanda Coplin (The Orchardist), Daisy Hildyard (Hunters in the Snow), Merritt Tierce (Love Me Back); as well as nominators Kevin Powers (The Yellow Birds), Jesmyn Ward (Salvage the Bones and Men We Reaped), moderator Fiona Maazel (Woke Up Lonely), and host Carrie Brownstein.
A more specific summary of my conversations, especially those with Jesmyn Ward and Fiona Maazel, who I found particularly inspiring, coming soon.
Jesmyn spoke about the challenges of transitioning from writing fiction to nonfiction, especially when writing about close personal experiences, and Fiona had great advice on the writing-publishing experience, staying motivated, keeping perspective, and more.
They were all wise, funny, authentic, kind, and I’m in love with them all.
Rebecca Keith, who organized the event, gave a heartfelt introduction for Carrie Brownstein, and here’s a clip of Carrie Brownstein’s own introduction, which was, of course, very funny. In a perfect literary kind of way.
For example, her joke about the publishing biz—“Trees have never felt safer.”