The BKBF Interview: Carmen Maria Machado


The BKBF Interview continues this week with acclaimed short story author Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties). Read about her godmother’s influence on her reading obsessions, and the choice books she loves to share. See her at the Brooklyn Book Festival on September 16, and check out our other 2018 BKBF authors.


Where is your favorite place to read? Outdoors, in a comfortable chair.

What is your favorite book to give an adult or a child? Roald Dahl’s Matilda, Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Joanna Russ’ How to Suppress Women’s Writing, Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day, Kelly Link’s Stranger Things Happen.

Tell us your best book-receiving experience. My late godmother used to give me books every time I visited her: classics, feminist theory, history. Every gift kindled some new obsession: boarding-school novels (A Little Princess), orphan novels (The Secret Garden), collections of correspondence (Failure is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words), diaries (The Diary of Anne Frank)… I’d be a different reader and writer without her.

What book do you return to most often, whether passages or whole? The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

What’s the last book that had you reading past your bedtime? Evan James’ Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe.

Carmen Maria Machado’s debut story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Kirkus Prize, LA Times Book Prize Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, the NBCC’s John Leonard Prize, and the Crawford Award. Her essays, fiction, and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta, Tin House, and elsewhere. She is the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia with her wife.


Get The BKBF Interview delivered to your inbox.