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Powell's Books Presents Daniel Mendelsohn in Conversation With Ayad Akhtar
In a genre-defying book hailed as “exquisite” (The New York Times) and “spectacular” (The Times Literary Supplement), bestselling memoirist and critic Daniel Mendelsohn explores the mysterious links between the randomness of the lives we lead and the artfulness of the stories we tell. Combining memoir, biography, history, and literary criticism, Three Rings (New York Review of Books) weaves together the stories of three exiled writers who turned to the classics of the past to create masterpieces of their own — works that pondered the nature of narrative itself: Erich Auerbach, the Jewish philologist who fled Hitler’s Germany and wrote his classic study of Western literature, Mimesis, in Istanbul; François Fénelon, the seventeenth-century French archbishop whose ingenious sequel to the Odyssey, The Adventures of Telemachus — a veiled critique of the Sun King and the best-selling book in Europe for a hundred years — resulted in his banishment; and the German novelist W. G. Sebald, self-exiled to England, whose distinctively meandering narratives explore Odyssean themes of displacement, nostalgia, and separation from home. Intertwined with these tales of exile and artistic crisis is an account of Mendelsohn’s struggle to write two of his own books — a family saga of the Holocaust and a memoir about reading the Odyssey with his elderly father — that are haunted by tales of oppression and wandering. As Three Rings moves to its startling conclusion, a climactic revelation about the way in which the lives of its three heroes were linked across borders, languages, and centuries forces the reader to reconsider the relationship between narrative and history, art and life. Mendelsohn will be joined in conversation by Ayad Akhtar, author of Homeland Elegies.
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Speakers

Daniel Mendelsohn
Daniel Mendelsohn's essays and translations have appeared frequently in the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Reviewand many other publications, and his books include An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic; The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, which won the National Jewish Book Award and the Prix Médicis; a translation of the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy; and three collections of essays. He is currently completing a new translation of Homer’s Odyssey, to be published by University of Chicago Press in 2023.
Ayad Akhtar
Ayad Akhtar is a novelist and playwright whose work has been published and performed in over two dozen languages. He is the author of the novel Homeland Elegies and the plays Junk, Disgraced, The Who & The What, and The Invisible Hand. He is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit for Fiction, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Akhtar is currently serving as president of PEN America.