Aaron Hamburger discusses the first pages of his latest novel, Hotel Cuba, and how he knew his first fragment of a sentence, “Fish and oranges,” from the first draft. We talk about the importance of working with all five senses, the necessity of movement from the very first lines, how to work in backstory, and grabbing hold of your character’s yearning early to drive the book forward.
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Aaron Hamburger is the author of the novel NIRVANA IS HERE, winner of a Bronze Medal from the 2019 Foreword Reviews Indie Awards. His story collection, THE VIEW FROM STALIN’S HEAD, was awarded the Rome Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and nominated for a Violet Quill Award. And his novel, FAITH FOR BEGINNERS, was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Village Voice, Tin House, Michigan Quarterly Review, Subtropics, Crazyhorse, Boulevard, Poets & Writers, Tablet, O, the Oprah Magazine, Out, The Massachusetts Review, The Bennington Review, Nerve, Time Out, Details, and The Forward. He has also won fellowships from Yaddo, Djerassi, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the Edward F. Albee Foundation as well as first prize in the Dornstein Contest for Young Jewish Writers, and his short fiction and non-fiction have received special mentions for the Pushcart Prize. He just received word that he has won the Lambda Literary Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize. He has taught creative writing at Columbia University, George Washington University, New York University, Brooklyn College, and the Stonecoast MFA Program.