Brian Francis Slattery

Photo of Brian Francis Slattery

Photo: © Penny Bird

About the Author

Novelist, musician, and editor BRIAN FRANCIS SLATTERY is the author of four novels, along with numerous articles on public policy and the arts. His 2008 dystopian fable, Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America, was named by Amazon’s editors the best science-fiction book of 2008, and his next novel, Lost Everything, won the 2012 Philip K. Dick Award. Slattery was previously a senior editor of the Journal of International Affairs and an editor and co-founder of the New Haven Review. His short fiction has appeared in Glimmer TrainMcSweeney’s, the Revelator, and elsewhere. He lives with his wife and son in New Haven, Connecticut.

Books by Brian Francis Slattery

Author Essay

This whole thing potentially opens up a big can of worms about immigrant identity. As a Catholic mutt myself–Irish, Italian, and Ukrainian, three cultures that have admirably resisted assimilation into the broader American culture–I’ve never really identified as American, and this book is in some ways about that kind of thing, too.

An interesting personal anecdote: The book hinges on a case of sort of mistaken identity, based on what I thought was a crazy thing, that two siblings would give their children (first cousins) the same name. So I went to some length to make this idea plausible in the book. Shortly after finishing it, though, I discovered that, on the Ukrainian side of my family, this had actually happened–two siblings gave their children the same name, and nobody thought there was anything weird about it. Go figure.

This eventually led me to take two trips to Cleveland–a city I liked immediately, as soon as I got there, and now love–and one trip to Eastern Europe, to Kiev, Ukraine; Chisinau and environs, Moldova; and eastern Romania. The trips were indispensable; I’ve figured out also that I can’t seem to write about a place in any real way unless I’ve been there, and in all these cases, I wanted to do right by them.

The idea for the book started with this big, squabbling family. For a while, I also happened to be editing a lot of stuff about Eastern Europe, specifically looking at what things were like there right after the collapse of communism and the recovery from that. At the same time, I was starting to play a lot more music from that region. So it occurred to me that I could write about all of this at once, because I can’t seem to write a book that’s just about one thing.

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