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Author to discuss debut novel with Belletrist creator at Books Are Magic

Brooklyn BookBeat

April 24, 2018 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Author Jana Casale. Photo: Elena Seibert
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What defines a life? In Jana Casale’s debut novel “The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky” (Knopf), the experience of contemporary womanhood is put under the microscope: from pursuing career goals to trying on bathing suits to meeting your future spouse. Told in supremely relatable vignettes, “The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky” examines life’s little moments in all their exquisite, ordinary beauty, and speaks to urgent questions women face today — even as it offers the possibility that, in the end, it might all really be OK. Timely and timeless, Casale’s work will resonate with readers of Maggie Shipstead, Rona Jaffe,and Sheila Heti.

Casale will appear at Books Are Magic today (Thursday, April 26) in conversation with Karah Preiss, the cofounder of Belletrist.

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Readers meet Leda, the “girl” at the center of Casale’s debut, on an ordinary day in her ordinary life. Leda is a girl who knows what she wants and whom she is — or at least she believes she does. When we meet her, Leda is a college student in Boston — confident, intelligent, independent — hoping that a flirty chat with a cute boy reading a book in a café will lead to romance. They have a fleeting, awkward conversation that quickly fades away, but the encounter does leave her with one positive, and ultimately transformative, thought: Leda wants to read Noam Chomsky. So she promptly buys a book and never, ever reads it.

As the days, years and decades of Leda’s life unfold, we watch the myriad things that Leda does instead. She loses her way and finds it again; she sets aside career goals to follow love, only to find her creative ambitions revived in the most unlikely of ways; she deals with her daughter’s tantrum in an IHOP parking lot. All of Leda’s experiences — the everyday and the milestones — prove to her that even our best-laid plans are not the only paths to happiness.

Hilarious and heartbreaking, gorgeously precise and disarmingly honest, “The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky” is a remarkable literary feat. Casale’s debut is the newest entry in the canon of “radical relatability” — books that examine, in raw detail, the experiences of contemporary women. In its candor and insight, it is also a decidedly feminist work, insisting that the stories and experiences of women are enough for great literature.

Casale has a BFA in fiction from Emerson College and an MS in creative writing from Oxford. Originally from Lexington, Massachusetts, she currently resides in San Francisco with her husband.


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