A one-time Miami resident, author Chris Bohjalian returns to South Florida for the paperback release of his novel Skeletons at the Feast.
A love story set in Germany and Poland during the last six months of World War II, the work chronicles the journey west of 18-year-old aristocrat Anna, her lover and prisoner-of-war Callum, and Uri, a German Jew disguised as a Wehrmacht corporal. The novel marks a significant change from other stories Bohjalian has written.
“The material has the importance and gravitas that much of my earlier works lacked,” he said in an interview with The Miami Hurricane.
The inspiration for the novel came about when a friend asked Bohjalian to read his East Prussian grandmother’s diary. Eight years later, while reading a non-fiction work about the war, Eva Henatsch’s riveting account of her march west resurfaced in Bohjalian’s memory. He began researching the era, interviewing Holocaust survivors and developing his narrative.
With 11 novels to his name, Bohjalian’s trip to bestseller status was not without rejection.
“I amassed 250 rejection slips before I ever sold a book,” he said. With determination in mind, his advice to young writers is simple: “Write about something you’re fascinatingly interested in,” he said.
The bestselling author also gives one word of inspiration: “phantasmagoric.”
“It suggests a certain type of entrancement, hypnotism, of being spellbound. It’s everything you want in a great novel,” Bohjalian said.
If you go:
Who: Author Chris Bohjalian has sold more than 3.5 million copies of his eleven novels. His book Midwives was chosen for Oprah’s Book Club and reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list.
What: The paperback release of Chris Bohjalian’s novel Skeletons at the Feast.
Where: Books & Books, Coral Gables
265 Aragon Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33134
When: Feb. 18, 2009
8 to 10 p.m.