Jennifer Egan image University of Central Arkansas

  • Pieter M. Van Hattem/Vistalux
  • EGAN

Last week, as part of UCA’s writer-in-residence series, over 100 people gathered in Conway for a reading and Q&A session with Pulitzer Prize winning author Jennifer Egan.

Egan has written four novels, two works of fiction and all sorts of reporting for the likes of New York Times magazine. She’s perhaps most famous for her latest novel, “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” for which she earned the 2011 Pulitzer and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The usual suspects were present: English major and MFA candidate types, professorial types with receding-hairline-ponytails and hipsters, including girl with lime green hair and ironic tattoos, who cross-stitched beforehand.

Egan began her talk by describing the genesis of the project. Before she started writing, she was in the process of neglecting a historical novel that “just wasn’t working.” After a dinner with her mother at a NYC hotel, Egan said she saw a wallet resting on top of an abandoned purse in the hotel bathroom. This brief encounter with another woman’s wallet reminded her of a time she was robbed (which Egan says has happened all too frequently in her life) hours before she was scheduled to get on a flight. Without money or identification, Egan frantically tried to save her trip and stop any money being stolen from her account. Luckily, a woman from her bank’s fraud detection service quickly called to report activity on her accounts and to try and save the day. After giving the woman her pin number, account number, and all other pertinent information one gives to banking types who are trying to save one from the distresses of fraud, they ended the conversation. Only later did Egan realize that the woman on the phone was not from the bank but rather was the actual thief who had stolen her purse. So after getting all the necessary information from Egan, she proceeded to rob her blind, leaving Egan “levitating with despair.”

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