October 14, 2016 • BOOKS, PEOPLE

DJ Reads: Curtis Sittenfeld

We’ve been fans of author Curtis Sittenfeld ever since she burst on the scene over a decade ago with Prep, a top-selling coming-of-age story of a bright young girl who leaves her Midwestern roots behind to attend a prestigious New England boarding school. And we’ve devoured her four subsequent novels.

So when we heard Curtis would be among the writers headlining this year’s Southern Festival of Books, scheduled to take place in Nashvile this weekend, we had the perfect excuse to toss a few Qs her way. Read on for more from Curtis, and check out our post on the Southern Festival of Books here.


Tell us about your upcoming participation in the Southern Festival of Books.
I’m really excited to be part of this year’s Festival. I’ll be on a panel with fellow fiction writers Danielle Dutton, Adam Haslett, and Yaa Gyasi, then I’ll participate in an onstage conversation with Gayle Forman, moderated by Mary Laura Philpott. I love doing events with other writers. I live in St. Louis, and hanging out with fellow writers isn’t part of my daily life.

What are looking forward to doing while in Nashville?
In the spring of 2015, I went on my first ever “girls’ weekend” with three of my high school classmates. (We’d attended boarding school together in Massachusetts in the early 90s.) We had one dinner at Husk (see our Q&A with chef/partner Sean Brock here) and one at Rolf & Daughters, and they were both outstanding. We also visited Parnassus Books, the renowned indie bookstore co-founded by Ann Patchett. We walked part way there, and my friend Consuelo got a huge blister. I like to believe Parnassus was so great, the blister was worth it.

How does the American South figure into your life and/or your writing?
I grew up in the Midwest, attended graduate school in this part of the country, and have lived here for about half my adulthood, when not on the East Coast. So both my life and fiction are much more Midwestern than Southern. That said, I have a strong appreciation for the quirks and distinctions of all regions, and the South is definitely both quirky and distinct!

Favorite Southern writers—current or historical?
I had an intense Pat Conroy phase in high school. I also really admire the novelist Josephine Humphreys.

Favorite Southernism?
Saying ‘bless her heart’ to offset some just-uttered insult or judgment is pretty magnificent.


Author Curtis Sittenfeld. (Photo credit: Josephine Sittenfeld.)