ISSUE Project Room and New Directions present an evening of anecdotes and admiration celebrating the life and work of author Muriel Spark, featuring New Directions President and Publisher Barbara Epler, New York Times columnist Maud Newton, Paris Review Contributing Editor Sadie Stein, T Magazine Senior Editor Emily Stokes and Vogue.com Culture Editor Thessaly LaForce. New Directions’ Publicity Director and Associate Editor Michael Barron moderates.
The writer Muriel Spark has been lauded for writing “some of the best sentences in the English” (The New Yorker) and for being “The most original and brilliant British novelist” (The New York Review of Books). This month, Spark’s longtime publisher New Directions will shining the limelight on her amazing body of work by publishing the first ever collection of her essays, The Informed Air, as well as reissuing eight of her novels.
Muriel Spark (1918-2006) began writing as a child, winning prizes for her poetry at a very young age. She started in fiction only after moving to London, working for UK intelligence during World War II, and editing The Poetry Review and publishing several non-fiction books. She became instantly famous with her first novel, The Comforters, in 1957. Of Scottish origin, Spark is remembered for the rare artistry of her audacious fictions (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Memento Mori, The Driver’s Seat, etc). In 1965, she received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, for The Mandelbaum Gate. In 1992, she won the US Ingersoll Foundation TS Eliot Award, and in 1997, the David Cohen Prize. Muriel Spark became Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1993.
Barbara Epler has been the President and Publisher of New Directions since 2011. She has been with the company since 1984 and has brought on such acclaimed authors as W.G. Sebald, Roberto Bolaño, Javier Marías, László Krasznahorkai and Muriel Spark.
Maud Newton has written personal essays, cultural and literary criticism, and fiction. Her work has appeared The New York Times Magazine, Bookforum and The Oxford American. She is currently at work on a book about the science and superstition of ancestry.
Sadie Stein is a contributing editor to The Paris Review. Her work appears in Vice and The Millions.
Emily Stokes is a senior editor at T: The New York Times Style Magazine. She has written for various publications including the Financial Times, the Guardian, and the Paris Review Daily.
Thessaly LaForce is the Culture Editor at Vogue.com. She is the editor of the anthology My Ideal Bookshelf, with illustrations by Jane Mount, published by Little, Brown in 2012 and is currently at work on a novella and a collection of stories.
Michael Barron has been the Publicity Director of New Directions since 2013 and an associate editor since 2011. He joined the company in 2006.