Keith Ridgway presents "A Shock," with John Keene

July 7, 2021, 6:00 PM

Keith Ridgway joins us ot present A Shock, in conversation with John Keene. This program is a collaboration with New Directions and will take place on Zoom. Register here:

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Ever since Keith Ridgway published his landmark cult novel Hawthorn & Child, his ardent fans have yearned for more. Finally, Ridgway gives us A Shock, his thrilling and unsparing, slippery and shockingly good new novel.

Formed as a rondel of interlocking stories with a clutch of more or less loosely connected repeating characters, it’s at once deracinated yet potent with place, druggy yet frighteningly shot through with reality. His people appear, disappear, and reappear. They’re on the fringes of London, clinging to sanity or solvency or a story by their fingernails, consumed by emotions and anxieties in fuzzily understood situations. A deft, high-wire act, full of imprecise yet sharp dialog as well as witchy sleights of hand reminiscent of Muriel Spark, A Shock delivers a knockout punch of an ending.

Perhaps Ridgway’s most breathtaking quality is his scintillating stealthiness: you can never quite put your finger on how he casts his spell—he delivers the shock of a master jewel thief (already far-off and scot-free) stealing your watch: when at some point you look down at your wrist, all you see is that in more than one way you don’t know what time it is…

Keith Ridgway is a Dubliner and the author of the novels The Long FallingThe Parts and Animals, as well as the collection of stories Standard Time and the novella Horses. His books have won awards and acclaim in Ireland and internationally and are translated widely. He lived in North London for eleven years but now lives in Dublin. New Directions published his latest novel—Hawthorn & Child—in September 2013.

John R. Keene was born in St. Louis in 1965. He graduated from the St. Louis Priory School, Harvard College, and New York University, where he was a New York Times Fellow. In 1989, Mr. Keene joined the Dark Room Writers Collective, and is a Graduate Fellow of the Cave Canem Writers Workshops. He is the author of Annotations, and Counternarratives, both published by New Directions, as well as several other works, including the poetry collection Seismosis, with artist Christopher Stackhouse, and a translation of Brazilian author Hilda Hilst’s novel Letters from a Seducer. Keene is the recipient of many awards and fellowships—including a MacArthur Genius Award, the Windham-Campbell Prize, and the Whiting Foundation Prize for fiction. He teaches at Rutgers University-Newark.