Rachel Kushner’s ambitious, devastatingly accomplished The Flamethrowers was probably the most talked-about American novel of 2013. Her fans include Jonathan Franzen and Colm Toibin.
The Flamethrowers is a fictional cocktail that combines the 1970s New York art scene, motorcycle racing, the First World War and political upheaval in Italy and New York, all brought to life by a cast of charismatic, intricately realised characters.
The year is 1975 and Reno has come to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Artists have colonised SoHo, are staging actions in the East Village, and are blurring the line between life and art.
Literary tastemaker James Wood lavished it with praise in a hefty New Yorker review, calling it ‘scintillatingly alive … a pure explosion of now’ and admiring Kushner’s ‘eerie confidence … which constantly entwines the invented with the real’.
Rachel Kushner is in conversation with Jo Case, author of Boomer and Me.
Jo Case is the Program Manager at Melbourne Writers Festival. Before this, she was the Wheeler Centre’s senior writer/editor. Her first book, Boomer and Me: A memoir of motherhood, and Asperger’s is published by Hardie Grant in Australia and the UK.
Rachel Kushner’s debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book. Her follow-up novel, The Flamethrowers, was also a finalist for the National Book Award. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and The Paris Review. She is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2016 Harold D. Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her latest novel, The Mars Room, was a finalist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.