20 June 2024, 19:00

Catherine Lacey on Biography of X

"Biography of X is the most ambitious book I've ever read from a writer of my own generation..."

— Torrey Peters

Join us for an evening with Catherine Lacey as she discusses her vertiginously brilliant novel Biography of X. In conversation with Adam Biles.

Free & open to all. Places limited. Arrive early to avoid disappointment.

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When X - an iconoclastic artist, writer and polarizing shape-shifter - dies suddenly, her widow, wild with grief, hurls herself into writing a biography of the woman she deified. Though X was recognised as a crucial creative force of her era, she kept a tight grip on her life story. Not even CM, her wife, knew where X had been born, and in her quest to find out, she opens a Pandora's box of secrets, betrayals and destruction. All the while she immerses herself in the history of the Southern Territory, a fascist theocracy that split from the rest of the country after World War II, as it is finally, in the present day, forced into an uneasy reunification.

A masterfully constructed, counter-factual literary adventure, complete with original images assembled by X's widow, Biography of X follows a grieving wife seeking to understand the woman who enthralled her. CM traces X's peripatetic trajectory over decades, from Europe to the ruins of America's divided territories, and through her collaborations and feuds with everyone from David Bowie and Tom Waits to Susan Sontag and Kathy Acker. And when she finally understands the scope of X's defining artistic project, CM realises her wife's deceptions were far crueller than she imagined.

Pulsing with suspense and intellect, Biography of X is a roaring epic that plumbs the depths of grief, art and love, and that introduces an unforgettable character who shows us the fallibility of the stories we craft for ourselves.

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Catherine Lacey was born in Mississippi and is the author of the novels Nobody Is Ever Missing, The Answers, Pew and Biography of X, and the short story collection Certain American States. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship. She has been shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, and was named as one of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, The New York Times, The Believer and Granta. Biography of X is longlisted for the 2024 Dylan Thomas Prize.

Catherine Lacey c Willy Somma NEW 1
“Shakespeare is the happy hunting ground of all minds that have lost their balance.”
JAMES JOYCE, ULYSSES

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