Mona Simpson: Q&A with the Bestselling Novelist and Professor of English
Mona Simpson writes novels. Her 1987 debut, Anywhere But Here, follows Adele and Ann August, a mother and daughter who move from the Midwest to Los Angeles in search of a less ordinary life. The novel went on to be a national bestseller, winning the Whiting Award in 1986, catapulting the author into the literary spotlight. Simpson followed her first novel’s success with a sequel: The Lost Father, published in 1992. Four years later, Simpson returned with A Regular Guy (1996). That same year Granta named Simpson one of America’s Best Young Novelists. In 2000, Simpson published Off Keck Road, a novel about a small town spinster, a man who has always been in her life, and a young girl, who completes the odd triangle. This work was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her upcoming novel, My Hollywood (Knopf, Spring 2010), depicts the upstairs/downstairs ironies, enmities, and strange affections between a community of immigrant nannies and their employers in contemporary Los Angeles. Presently, Simpson has begun a story about the lives and loves of Diaspora Arabs in Europe, the Gulf, and the United States, and of their more assimilated, half-American cousins. Simpson is also a Professor in the Department of English and plays an active part in organizing the Friends of English and Hammer Museum’s popular “Some Favorite Writers” series. On a recent summer afternoon, I sat down in a Brentwood coffee shop with Simpson to talk about her work and, in particular, The American Cousins.