An Indies Introduce Q&A With Alexander Weinstein

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Alexander Weinstein, author of Children of the New WorldAlexander Weinstein is the author of Children of the New World: Stories (Macmillan/Picador), a Summer/Fall 2016 Indies Introduce debut novel and an October 2016 Indie Next List pick.

“This story collection hums with creative energy, and it’s the perfect balance of smart and heart, funny and moving,” said Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books in San Francisco, who served as the chair of the Indies Introduce adult debut committee. “The stories are set in the future, but this is not genre sci-fi; rather, it’s a glimpse at where our society is, and maybe where it’s going. There are clouds in that future, but it’s also bursting with humanity. Children of the New World reminds me of George Saunders’ Tenth of December, which is the highest compliment I could pay a book of short stories.”

Weinstein is a professor of creative writing at Siena Heights University and a lecturer at the University of Michigan, as well as the director of the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. His work has been featured in anthologies, including New Stories From the Midwest 2013 (New American Press), and literary journals. Weinstein has won the Lamar York and Gail Crump prizes and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Here, Mulvihill discusses Children of the New World with the author.

Cover for Children of the New World by Alexander WeinsteinPete Mulvihill: Do you consider Children of the New World to be science fiction? If not, why?

Alexander Weinstein: Since I don’t go into the actual science behind the technology,  I think of the collection as speculative fiction, with one foot in the world of sci-fi and the other in the world of literary fiction (and this is really only if we compare it to the genre of hard sci-fi). That said, technology seems to be catching up with my dystopian fiction. (I’ve recently heard that they’re working on contact lenses with screens on them; there are apps for electronic enlightenment, virtual drugs, and virtual reality is quickly on its way.) Maybe in 10 years, the collection will be read as pastoral literary realism!

PM: Who is the best writer you’ve been compared to? The worst?

AW: Recently there was a Chekhov comparison, which I was honored by. Thankfully I don’t have an answer to the second question yet.

PM: What did you learn about indie bookstores during your tour?

AW: The tour has been a confirmation of my belief in how amazing indie bookstores are. I’ve been getting to meet the owners as I travel, and it’s wonderful to see how much they champion books and how their bookstores are thriving (particularly since about a decade ago, folks were having the now-ridiculous conversation about whether it was “the death of the bookstore”). I predict that indie bookstores are going to continue to grow in coming decades, as will readings, author talks, etc. Just as there’s been a drop in e-reader use recently, with a preference for actual books, I think we’re going to see a desire for a return to our pre-cybernetic community gatherings.

PM: What’s next? More stories, a novel, something else?

AW: I’m working on my second book, The Lost Traveler’s Tour Guide, which is a fantastical tour guide to impossible locales and dreamlike destinations. There are museums of heartbreak, hotels of love, and cities of longing. I’m hard at work on the book, and thrilled to announce that it’ll be forthcoming from Picador.

PM: Tell us about the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing.

AW: It’s the non-profit summer writers’ conference that I direct on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. I founded the institute seven years ago, and since 2010 we’ve been offering week-long summer workshops and bringing award-winning poets, authors, and literary journal editors to the Vineyard to lead classes, give evening readings, and help nurture the writing community. My goal in founding the institute was to create a center where writers of all levels of experience could work together on their craft, cultivating community and creativity rather than criticism or competition. I’m presently working on grants/fundraising to increase the fellowships we can offer to writers in need, and gearing up for our 2017 program. It’s been a magical experience, and I’m excited to see our attendees emerging from the program with renewed inspiration and going on to publish their work!

Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein (Picador, trade paperback, 9781250098993) Publication Date: September 13, 2016.

Learn more about the author at

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