'Mislaid' Punctures Notions Of Gender And Race
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
It's 1965. Peggy Vaillancourt likes women, but has married her professor, Lee Fleming, who is a man who likes men. So though they have something in common, their marriage is quickly unhappy. Peggy takes off with her daughter and dons a new identity. She tells everyone that she and her daughter are African-American and she leaves her son behind. Not exactly a boy meets girl romance now, is it? Nell Zink's new book, "Mislaid," is a satire - biting, daring, sometimes even a little aggravating with characters who can be tough to love or even like.
NELL ZINK: I don't want to live in a world where to get sympathy you have to be, like, a young pretty version of Mother Teresa and maybe be struggling against some limitation imposed from without. All of Peggy's problems she creates for herself. She's one of the white characters; so is Lee. They're privileged. What does it mean to be privileged? It means that you create your own problems - that life becomes a game where you're the one putting stumbling blocks in your own way.
SIMON: Nell Zink talking about her new book, "Mislaid." It's her second novel but her first breakout success, and she's just passed 50, which she thinks is great.
ZINK: I do have the advantage that for all those years I kept writing very seriously - taking my work seriously and really, you know, finishing stories and even a couple novels because it was enough for me to have my friends like it. I don't want to say I'm immune to criticism, but it seems like it doesn't hurt me as badly as it hurts some other first-time authors.
SIMON: The book came out this week. It's called "Mislaid."
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.