Skip to main content

Elizabeth Strout discusses her novel "The Burgess Boys" with Sarah Stonich, author of "Vacationland"

Join us at Common Good Books for a conversation about the writing life featuring two fascinating authors. Elizabeth Strout and Sarah Stonich will discuss their writing and their writing lives.




When Elizabeth Strout set out to write her follow-up to Olive Kitteridge, she revisited an old manuscript in which a fatherless family named Burgess were minor characters. Using an actual case in Maine as the model for Zach’s legal troubles, her own time as both a Maine and New York local, and her expertise as a former lawyer, Strout brought these deeply human protagonists into the present day and made their story the crux of her latest novel The Burgess Boys (available in paperback April 8).

As adults living in Brooklyn, Jim Burgess is a sleek, successful corporate lawyer and Bob Burgess is a divorced Legal Aid attorney living alone in a sparsely furnished apartment.  The brothers’ lives are irrevocably altered when their sister, Susan, calls with news of a thoughtless but serious act committed by her teenage son Zach.  Responding to her plea for help, the brothers arrive in their hometown of Shirley Falls, Maine, where the three siblings recall their shared upbringing and are forced to finally deal with their rarely mentioned, murky family history. Long-buried tensions which have informed their personal and professional lives begin to surface and layers of family history are peeled away to reveal heartbreaking secrets that will forever change them.

“Strout’s prose propels the story forward with moments of startlingly poetic clarity.”--New Yorker


Elizabeth Strout is the author of Olive Kitteridge, a national bestseller. She has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker and O: The Oprah Magazine. She is on the faculty of the MFA program at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, and lives in New York City.


Sarah Stonich is the best-selling author of These Granite Islands, translated into seven languages and shortlisted for France’s Gran Prix de Lectrices de Elle; the critically acclaimed novel The Ice Chorus; and a memoir, Shelter. The founder of, she lives in Minneapolis and spends summers in northeastern Minnesota.

Stonich’s latest book Vacationland is a novel of stories set in a broken-down fishing resort in the north woods of Minnesota.

Date: 04/13/2014
Time: 4:00pm - 5:00pm

38 S Snelling Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55105