Talk, book signing at Left Bank Books Jan. 24

Jan 11, 2019

Belfast — The public is invited to Left Bank Books Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. for a discussion by novelists Susan Conley and Lily King of Conley’s just-released novel, "Elsey Come Home." King will lead a discussion of Conley’s work, followed by questions from the audience and a book signing.

Conley conceived "Elsey Come Home" while she was living in China with her family. The book’s protagonist spends a week at a yoga retreat in a small, mountainous village in China, having been sent there as an ultimatum from her husband in a desperate attempt to save their marriage.

While there, Conley explains, Elsey confronts the fact that “she can’t cleave the different parts of herself (mother, wife, professional) together anymore, and her unraveling is hard and fast, until she meets an acclaimed Chinese dissident painter who changes her life.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Richard Russo calls Elsey “a quirky little gem of a book. . . . I’m still trying to figure out how (Conley) created a character so seemingly lost to herself without losing me in the process. There’s genuine alchemy here.”

Marie Claire has chosen Elsey for its list of “Best Fiction of 2019 (So Far),” and The Huffington Post, Southern Living Magazine and Fodor's Travel each picked the novel for their “Best of 2019” lists.

Conley is also the author of "he Foremost Good Fortune," a memoir about her time in living in China, during which she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The memoir received critical praise, was excerpted in The New York Times Magazine and was an Oprah Magazine Top Ten Pick. Her earlier novel, "Paris Was the Place," was a People Magazine Top Pick. She also authored a photography collaboration, "Stop Here, This is the Place," which was a Real Simple Magazine Must Read.

A Maine native, Conley is also a co-founder of The Telling Room, a nationally recognized nonprofit writing center for young writers (ages 6 to 18) in Portland that received a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from Michelle Obama at the White House in 2015.

Conley is also a teacher in the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast writing program. She is the recipient of two MacDowell Colony residencies, a Breadloaf Writer’s Fellowship, and a Massachusetts Arts Council grant. Other work of hers has appeared in The Paris Review, Ploughshares, The North American Review, and DownEast Magazine.

Lily King is also an award-winning novelist whose work includes "The Pleasing Hour" (New York Times Notable Book), "The English Teacher" (Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year) and "Father of the Rain" (New York Times Editors' Choice).

Her 2014 novel "Euphoria" was reviewed on the cover of The New York Times Book Review and hailed as “a taut, fiercely intelligent tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace.” Andre Dubus III wrote that "Euphoria" is “simply one of the finest novels I’ve read in years, and it puts Lily King firmly in the top rank of our most accomplished novelists.”

This is a free event, but reservations are strongly suggested. Please call 338-9009 or email with questions or to pre-order copies of "Elsey Come Home" or any of Conley’s or King’s previous books.

The shop, which is celebrating its 15th year as an independent bookstore, is located at 109 Church St. in downtown Belfast, and is open daily, year-round.


Susan Conley
Lily King
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