Jessica Keener discusses the first pages of her debut novel, Night Swim, recently re-released in a new 10th anniversary edition. We talk about how she straddled the genre line of an adult novel with a young protagonist, the way her frame story helped her understand what the book was all about, and her journey to find her own publisher instead of accepting unwanted changes—only to make the book a bestseller in the end.
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Jessica Keener’s debut novel, Night Swim, was a national bestseller, which was followed by an award-winning collection of stories, Women in Bed. Her second novel, Strangers in Budapest, was an Indie Next pick, an Entertainment Weekly best new book, and a Southern Independent Bookseller Association bestseller. A tenth-anniversary edition of Night Swim was published in March 2023 for which she embarked on a 50-state virtual book club tour. She's been the recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council artist grant, a fellowship from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and scholarships for writing excellence from Wesleyan and Brown University. Her features have appeared in The Boston Globe, Agni, O magazine and others. Her essay “The Flow Room,” originally published by WBUR’s Cognoscenti, was included in the award-winning anthology: LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19, which won the 2021 Washington State Book prize. An excerpt from her forthcoming novel, Evening Begins the Day, will be published in June by Image magazine.