What is your latest release and what genre is it? Young Widower: A Memoir (University Of Nebraska Press)
Quick description: John Evans was twenty-nine years old and his wife, Katie, was thirty. They had met in the Peace Corps in Bangladesh, taught in Chicago, studied in Miami, and now were working for the year in Romania, when they set off with friends to hike into the Carpathian Mountains. In an instant, their life together was shattered. Katie became separated from the group. When John finally found her, he could only watch helplessly as she was mauled to death by a brown bear.
In such a love story, such a life story, how could a person ever move forward? That is the question John Evans, traumatized and restless, confronts in this book, as he learns the language of grief, the rhetoric of survival, and the contrary poetic algorithms of holding fast and letting go. His memories of Katie and their time together, and the strangeness of his life with her family in the year after her death, create an unsentimental but deeply moving picture of loss, the brutality of nature, and the unfairness of finding oneself narrating a story one is wholly unprepared to tell.
Told with unyielding witness, elegance, and care, Young Widower is a heartbreaking account of a senseless tragedy in nature and the persistence of grief in a young person’s life.
John W. Evans was born in Kansas and grew up in New York and Chicago. His memoir, Young Widower (University of Nebraska Press, 2014), won the 2013 River Teeth Book Prize. His poetry collection, The Consolations (Trio House Press, 2014), won the 2013 Trio Award. His poems and essays appear in Slate, The Missouri Review, Boston Review, ZYZZYVA, The Rumpus, and Poetry Daily, as well as the chapbooks, No Season (FWQ, 2011) and Zugzwang (RockSaw, 2009). After completing a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in poetry, John was a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, where he continues to teach creative writing today. He has worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bangladesh, was a public school teacher in Chicago, and a college teacher in Romania. He lives in Northern California with his wife and two young sons.
What are you working on now?
I’m writing a new memoir, with the working title, The Second Life.
John’s reading recommendation:
NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names (Reagan Arthur, 2013)
(I agree! I read this book and thought it was outstanding. smt)