Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


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Reading in New York, 3/30

I’m really excited to  be reading in NYC this week as part of the Guerrilla Lit Reading Series at Dixon Place. One note: this event is free but requires tickets, so if you’re planning to go, please secure tickets to be sure you can get in.

I’m joined by Jacob Appel and Gordon Haber. Jacob is the author of The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up while Gordon has founded the e-book press company, Dutch Kills Press. They are accomplished men-of-letters, and I’m thrilled to appear alongside them.

There’s always something special about doing book events in New York City. It’s strange to do it so soon after the glowing review of The Fugue appeared in the Chicago Tribune. I feel an odd bit of pressure. Still, it’ll be great to get back to some of my old stomping grounds and see old friends. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you!

Guerrilla Lit Reading Series

Gint Aras, Jacob M. Appel, Gordon Haber

Dixon Place 161A Chrystie Street, NY, New York

7:30 PM

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Getting compared to your idols

This past week, the Chicago Tribune ran this review of my novel, The Fugue. The reviewer, fellow Chicagoan Dmitry Samarov, called the book “magisterial,” said it goes for all the marbles and compared it to Dostoevsky.

Other commentators have compared my writing to other writers that I love, including Nelson Algren.

All these conversations are insane. They don’t feel real. I’m certain a moment is arriving when a director or other puppet-master will say, “We’re finished, thank you,” then turn off all the lights, unplug the equipment and send all the players back to reality.

I have so many questions about how this all happens. How is it that you read the books of the writers you love, write your own book and then end up getting compared to them? The comparisons are obvious compliments. But what’s going on? Have I internalized these forms, or are they attractive to me because I found parts of myself swimming in them, parts placed in a text long before I was born?

Today, I’d just like to nudge the director or puppet-master, if s/he’s reading. Don’t turn off the equipment. Not for a while, anyway.  I’d like to keep this insane conversation going.

Here’s a self-portrait I took of myself in Queens, NY.

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The implausibility of a Great American Wall

I tried posting this article on Facebook, but I felt it did not get the proper traction, so I’m going to share it here on Liquid Ink. Some colleagues and I were discussing this over lunch. Does anyone understand what kind of engineering feat it would be to build a wall between Mexico and the USA? In the damn desert? With this state of political gridlock?

An engineer, Ali Rhuzkan, has chimed in, and his explanation makes obvious just how absurd all this bravado is about a wall between our countries. What do people think, that the Mexico-US border is like a street between Charlottenburg and the rest of Berlin?

Here are some of the article’s highlights:

  • This wall would contain over three times the amount of concrete used to build the Hoover Dam.
  • It would be greater in volume than all six pyramids of the Giza Necropolis.
  • The rebar necessary to reinforce the concrete would equal about 5 billions pounds of steel, or more than is contained in 4 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.

Read the rest of Ali Rhuzukan’s article here.

Here’s a wall for you:

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Thoughts on switching publishers

My publisher, Jerry Brennan of Tortoise Books, recently wrote a blog post to share his thoughts about taking over publishing and production duties for The Fugue. Writers aspiring to publish novels should read it. Today I want to expand a bit on Jerry’s thoughts.

It turns out that, unbeknownst to either of us, Jerry and I were students at Columbia University at exactly the same time. He was at the J-school while I attended classes one building to the north at the School of the Arts.

I often used to peer at the J-school and feel pangs of jealousy. Journalism students, I was sure, didn’t struggle with feelings of illegitimacy the way I did as a mere writing student. They were all sure of themselves and would one day offer society valuable skill. How could I know one of them would be publishing my book?

It’s possible that Jerry and I ate in the cafeteria at the same time or stood queued up in the bookstore at the very same hour. I would pass the J-school every single day, no matter if I was going to class or to the library. Al Gore was teaching there, and I once tried to pry in to a lecture only to get paranoid at the last minute and hide away. Jerry attended those classes.

I’ve known Jerry on Facebook and Twitter ever since the publication of Finding the Moon in Sugar in 2009. He and I caught wind of one another through Chicago’s indie writing community. Of course, I had no idea we had been classmates, trading places in rather classic ships-in-the-night fashion. I was quite literally working on the earliest version of The Fugue while Jerry was studying under Al Gore.

I experienced a roller coaster of a day this past February when CCLaP and I parted ways. In less than twelve hours, I went from being suddenly unpublished to published again, with a new marketing plan and a ton of support.

As with virtually anything in life, luck and diligence conspired to see me find a second deal. And I see no small bit of weirdness in the story, that a book I had essentially put under my bed, hung up as a failure, ended up published not once but twice, and in the span of less than a day, the second time by a guy from essentially the same graduating class.

I got good advice from wise people when I published Finding the Moon in Sugar. Here it is: reach out to everyone you can and take an active interest in other people’s businesses and stories; look at others in the publishing world as collaborators, not competitors, and understand that a team effort is necessary for a book to do well. Of course, many things are just beyond your control. You go to graduate school, at least partially, to “develop a network”. How fitting that a guy in my network was someone who shared my college experience when neither of us had any idea until the ink had dried on the contract.

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I Am Lietuva (not me, personally)

I was recently interviewed by Alexsandra Kudukis of I Am Lietuva. She asked me one question that is, to date, the most difficult one I had to answer in any interview.

The script is available in a newsletter available to subscribers only. To subscribe, please follow this link and go to the upper left-hand corner of the web page where you can add your e-mail address and receive the weekly letter.

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Here’s a teaser:

 

6.) We ask all of our guests at www.iamlietuva.com the same final two questions. What does Lietuvybė, or being Lithuanian mean to you?

Being Lithuanian in America offered me a vantage point from which I eventually grew and evolved to imagine myself a global citizen. What I mean is that the policies of isolationism and the point of view that sees America as exceptional and God’s best friend with a gun didn’t work on me.

When I came to Vilnius at age 19, read the city’s history, realized how complicated the place was, it was liberating, and I started to see the entire world not as a set of teams behind borders but an ever-shifting, ever-changing interplay. Realizing how different Lithuania was from the story I’d been told drove my curiosity through the stratosphere. I started traveling, opening myself up to the stories and ideas of people different from myself. Vilnius was my gateway drug to global consciousness.

 

 


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Elena Colás Reviews The Fugue by Gint Aras

Chicago Literati ran this wonderful review of The Fugue last month.

Chicago Literati

As it’s namesake composition suggests, The Fugue tells its story in many voices. Author Gint Aras sketches the lives of two families, two priests, a young musician and her aunt as they carve out a life between Ukraine and Cicero. Over five decades, the reader hears these voices compliment and contradict one other, harmonize for a moment, and diverge into private suffering. Themes of secrecy and betrayal echo through the generations of the Dilienko and the Jorgensen families, bouncing off the walls of their city apartments and their church confessionals.

The saga begins in the newly freed hands of Yuri Dilienko, who has found himself fresh out of a jail stint on the corner of 14th and 50th Court. His own story began three decades ago, in the home of Ukrainian immigrant, Bronza Dilienko, and his troubled wife, Gaja. Her story began long before that, under a dark cloud that…

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My new publisher

I’m thrilled to announce that my novel, The Fugue, has been picked up by Tortoise Books, a very specialized publisher with keen attention to detail. They’re here in Chicago, and I couldn’t be happier with how I’ve been treated by them.

In terms of content, the new book is, barring a few minor typographical adjustments, identical and tells the exact same story as the version originally published by CCLaP. Tortoise decided to redesign the cover and layout, and the result is a more classic feel. I love the paper its printed on. It smells the way old libraries used to.

Now…there are still first editions floating around out there. If you were totally in love with the old cover—it was a photograph I took in The Netherlands, in an old church converted to a bookstore—you might contact The Book Table or City Lit Books in Chicago. Those copies stand to become the rare versions.

If you immediately want this, the 2nd edition, your independent bookstore can order it for you. You can also get it at Amazon, and it’s available on the Kindle (or, with an app, on any device). I’ll be reading from and selling copies of this new version in New York on March 30th and in Seattle in April.

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The front

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