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We're pleased to welcome Natalie Bakopoulos to our At Home with Literati series of virtual events in support of her new novel, Scorpionfish. She'll be joined in conversation by Courtney Maum, author of Costalegre.
Note: meetings are now automatically password protected with wait rooms enabled. The password is entered automatically by clicking the link if you are logged into a Zoom account. We will let guests in off the waiting list shortly after 7pm EST and throughout the event. If you join late, hang in there, we'll let you in when we see you.
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About Scorpionfish: After the unexpected deaths of her parents, young academic Mira returns to her childhood home in Athens. On her first night back, she encounters a new neighbor, a longtime ship captain who has found himself, for the first time in years, no longer at sea. As one summer night tumbles into another, Mira and the Captain’s voices drift across the balconies of their apartments, disclosing details and stories: of careers, of families, of love.
For Mira, love has so often meant Aris, an ex-boyfriend and rising Greek politician who has recently become engaged to a movie star. There is, too, her love for her dear friend Nefeli—a well-known queer artist who came of age during the military dictatorship—as well as Dimitra and Fady, a couple caring for a young refugee boy. Undergirding each relationship is the love that these characters have for Athens, a beautiful but complicated city that is equal parts lushness and sharp edges.
Scorpionfish is a map of how—and where—we find our true selves: in the pull of the sea, the sway of late-night bar music, the risk and promise of art, and—perhaps most of all—in the sparkling, electric, summertime charge of endless possibility. Award-winning author Natalie Bakopoulos weaves a story of vulnerability, desire, and bittersweet truth, unraveling old ways of living and, in the end, creating something new.
About Costalegre: It is 1937, and Europe is on the brink of war. Hitler is circulating a most-wanted list of artists, writers, and thinkers whose work is deemed a threat to the new regime. To prevent the destruction of her favorite art (and artists), American heiress and modern art collector Leonora Calaway begins swiftly chartering boats and planes for an elite group of surrealists to Costalegre, a mysterious resort in the Mexican jungle, where she has a home.
The story of what happens to these artists is told by Lara, Leonora’s neglected fifteen-year-old daughter, who has been pulled out of school to follow her mother to Mexico. “I am destined,” Lara writes, “for a destiny I haven’t had the chance to meet.” Inspired by the beautiful and talented Charlotte, alongside an eccentric menagerie of other surrealists, Lara begins to discover herself as an artist. In days filled with writing, dreaming, horseback riding, and exploring her new home, she grapples with her own ambition, hoping to find a sensitive ear in her mother but often finding herself alone. It’s not till she meets the outcast sculptor Jack Klinger, a much older man who has already been living in Costalegre for some time, that Lara thinks she might have found the understanding she so badly craves.
Natalie Bakopoulos is the author of The Green Shore (Simon & Schuster, 2012), and her work has appeared in Tin House, the Iowa Review, the New York Times, Granta, Ploughshares, and O. Henry Prize Stories. She’s an assistant professor of creative writing at Wayne State University and a faculty member of the summer program Writing Workshops in Greece. She lives in Detroit, Michigan.
Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Touch and I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, the chapbook Notes from Mexico, and the handbook Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book. Her writing and essays have been widely published in such outlets as BuzzFeed; The New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; and Modern Loss. She is the founder of the learning collaborative The Cabins, and she also works as a product and cosmetic shade namer from her home in Connecticut.