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John Wray   The Right Hand of Sleep  
John Wray    
Rean an excerpt from The Right Hand of Sleep

Essay

 

As the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath have soberingly reaffirmed my own sense of living in historical time, John Wray's first novel, The Right Hand of Sleep, has begun to seem even more relevant and thought-provoking. Wray's novel, a careful and detailed account of moral ambiguity and shifting loyalties in interwar Austria, skillfully takes up the question of history through the eyes of its characters and their very different reactions to the local implications of world-changing events. The Right Hand of Sleep also addresses experiences of collective suffering and the dangerous role that all-encompassing ideologies can play in such an experience. What's more, the novel features vividly drawn characters and an interesting, effective, shifting narrative technique.

Though born in the United States, Wray's mother is Austrian, and he is a citizen of both Austria and the U.S. Wray now lives in Brooklyn, NY and is at work on a new book. When The Right Hand of Sleep was published earlier this year, it garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews -- further evidence that any reader of serious fiction should take a look at this novel. Additionally, I found Wray to be gracious, thoughtful, and even humorous in his responses to my questions about his book. What follows is our discussion on reading, writing, and writing about reading -- and the broader questions about history, family, suffering, and ethical responsibility that these processes suggest.

--Megan Lynch

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