A few days late, but…the 2009-2010 Writers @ Newark Reading Series concluded Tuesday with Caryl Phillips reading from his latest, In the Falling Snow, and his former student Nalini Jones, author of the story collection What You Call Winter, who read new work. Like the recent pairings of Doty/Lisicky and Lee/Eugenides, the evening was enhanced and relaxed by each reader’s familiarity with the other’s work. But more than that, the readings were mutually interested in exploring conditions of placelessness and estrangement and the geographic distance between bodies, as well as more intimate and internal displacements.
The lilt of Nalini’s new work, which like her story collection, returns to India, seems to echo the theme of her Q&A responses: the repetition of Becauses, the lapping of water, bodies bouncing between, and within, worlds. On a similar theme of returning to ancestral homes, Phillips remarked that when he writes about the worlds of his grandparents and great-grandparents, the key is to tiptoe. In addition to reading from his novel, he read a stunning nonfiction piece, with the modest caveat ‘it was written to avoid having to write a memoir’. The piece is published in full on The Guardian website for everyone wanting a second look.