Radio Wolinsky

Jane Smiley, 2021: “Perestroika in Paris”

Jane Smiley, whose latest novel is “Perestroika in Paris,” in conversation with host Richard Wolinsky.

The author of sixteen adult fiction novels, two short story collections, five non-fiction works plus several young adult novels, Jane Smiley is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of “A Thousand Acres,” and more recently The Last Hundred Years Trilogy. She current teaches creative writing.

“Perestroika in Paris” is a departure from her other works. Clearly an adult novel, it focuses on several animals on the loose in Paris in 2008, including a horse named Perestroika (Paras), based in part on Jane Smiley’s own horse of the same name, a dog named Frida (based in part on Jane Smiley’s own German short-haired pointer) and an array of other creatures, all of whom communicate with one another, and create a bond with a young orphan named Etienne, who lives with his elderly grandmother near the Eiffel Tower.

As Jane points out in the interview, in an era when we are overwhelmed with angst in politics and during the pandemic, a book that takes us far away can often seem like a necessary relief.

The real Paras (Perestroika). Photos courtesy Jane Smiley.