HAPPY HOUR SALON: Rachel Kushner, Nathaniel Rich, and Zachary Lazar Live at the Press Street HQ

Join Room 220 for a Happy Hour Salon featuring readings by three exciting and celebrated novelists—Rachel Kushner, Nathaniel Rich, and Zachary Lazar—from 6 – 9 p.m. on Thursday, May 9, at the Press Street HQ (3718 St. Claude Ave.).

Kushner, who will be visiting from Los Angeles, and New Orleans-based Rich both have new novels out that have been greeted with great critical acclaim. Lazar, a Tulane professor and author, has recently finished a new novel, and we look forward to (hopefully) hearing an excerpt from it at the event. Maple Street Bookshop will be on hand with the authors’ books for sale.

Rachel Kushner’s debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. By all accounts, her follow up, The Flamethrowers, is even better. The Flamethrowers’ young protagonist veers wildly through varied worlds—the late-70s New York art scene, high-speed motorcycle racing in the Utah salt flats, underground Italian radical movements—while stories historical and histrionic of and from the book’s kaleidoscopic cast of characters flesh out what amounts to a considerable literary artwork. Read James Wood’s review of The Flamethrowers in the New Yorker, an interview with Kushner in BOMB by Hari Kunzru, see a selection of images Kushner collected while writing the book at the Paris Review, and stay tuned for the Room 220 interview with Kushner, to be published next week.

Nathaniel Rich’s new novel, Odds Against Tomorrow, is a fast-paced, paranoiac spree through New York City in the near future, after a hurricane has struck the Atlantic seaboard and left the metropolis underwater. Its young genius protagonist—who’s employed as a disaster consultant—both predicted the storm’s disastrous effects and is left to contend with them as he wends his way out of the city. The novel speaks both to the unsettling changes in weather we’re witnessing as a result of global warming and the veritable deluge of (scary) information we have access to in the Internet Age. Read a review of Odds Against Tomorrow in the New York Times and an interview with Rich at Room 220.

Zachary Lazar’s 2008 novel, Sway, earned a chorus of nods for best book of the year from the likes of the Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone. Its dark, pulsating fictional consideration of 60s countercultural figures such as Charles Manson and Kenneth Anger prompted a reviewer at the New York Times to write: “With its motifs of homosexuality, Satan worship, drug addiction, promiscuity, nihilism and general decadence, Zachary Lazar’s superb second novel, ‘Sway,’ reads like your parents’ nightmare idea of what would happen to you if you fell under the spell of rock ’n’ roll.” He followed Sway with a  memoir, Evening’s Empires: The Story of My Father’s Murder, and is currently at work on a project about the Passion Play at Angola Prison in collaboration with photographer Deborah Luster. Read an interview with Lazar at BOMB.

As always, this Room 220 Happy Hour Salon is free and open to the public and complimentary libations will be on hand (though we strongly suggest donations).