ANDREW HOLLERAN IN CONVERSATION – FORT LAUDERDALE
PEN America Miami/South Florida is proud to celebrate the launch of Andrew Holleran’s latest novel, The Kingdom of Sand. His first novel since 2006’s Grief, this book is “a poignant tale of desire and dread.” Thank you for joining us as we welcomed one of the most renowned authors of the post-Stonewall generation for a moderated discussion with PEN Across America Program Director William Johnson, followed by a Q&A with the author and a book signing.
“One of the great appeals of Florida has always been the sense that the minute you get here you have permission to collapse.”
In The Kingdom of Sand, the nameless narrator is a gay man who moves to Florida to look after his aging parents—during the height of the AIDS epidemic—and finds himself unable to leave after their deaths. With gallows humor, Holleran chronicles the indignities of growing old in a small town.
At the heart of the novel is the story of his friendship with Earl, whom he met cruising at the local boat ramp. For the last 20 years, he has been visiting Earl to watch classic films together and critique the neighbors. Earl is the only person in town with whom he can truly be himself. After he discovers Earl’s health is failing, our increasingly misanthropic narrator must contend with the fact that once Earl dies he will be completely alone. He distracts himself with visits to Walgreens and sexual encounters at the video porn store. All the while, he shares reflections on illness and death that are at once funny and heartbreaking.
Holleran’s first novel, Dancer from the Dance, is widely regarded as a classic work of gay literature. Reviewers described his subsequent books as beautiful, exhilarating, seductive, haunting, and bold. The Kingdom of Sand displays all of Holleran’s considerable gifts; it’s an elegy to sex and a stunningly honest exploration of loneliness and the endless need for human connection, especially as we count down our days.
About the Author
Andrew Holleran’s first novel, Dancer from the Dance, was published in 1978. He is also the author of the novels Nights in Aruba and The Beauty of Men; a book of essays, Ground Zero (reissued as Chronicle of a Plague, Revisited); a collection of short stories, In September, the Light Changes; and a novella, Grief.
William Johnson is the PEN Across America program director at PEN America. A longtime steward in the writing community, Johnson was the editor and publisher of Mary Literary, a literary magazine committed to showcasing work of artistic integrity. He also co-produced Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color, the first major anthology for queer poets of color in the United States. In 2011, Johnson began his tenure at Lambda Literary, an organization dedicated to promoting LGBTQ literature. As the deputy director of Lambda Literary, Johnson oversaw many of the organization’s most dynamic programs and public events, including the Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices and Lambda’s web magazine, the Lambda Literary Review.