About Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan (born on September 7, 1962) is an American novelist and short story writer who lives in Brooklyn, New York. Egan's novel A Visit from the Goon Squad won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

Fast Facts List: 20 Facts You Should Know About the Author

1) Jennifer Egan was born in Chicago, Illinois, but she grew up in San Francisco, California.

2) She graduated from a public magnet school in San Francisco, called Lowell High School.

3) She obtained her undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania.

4) Egan dated Steve Jobs while at the University of Pennsylvania.

5) The University of Pennsylvania presented her with the Thouron Award, which allowed her to spend two years at St. John’s College in Cambridge, England.

6) A number of periodicals have published Egan’s short fiction, including The New Yorker, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Ploughshares.

7) Egan has been a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine for nearly two decades.

8) Besides A Visit from the Goon Squad, Egan has published three other novels: The Invisible Circus, Look at Me, and The Keep (see below).

9) Egan received the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship.

10) Egan was a fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library in 2004-2005.

11) Egan was a finalist in 2011 for the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction.

12) In reference to her latest novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, Egan said, "I wanted to avoid centrality. I wanted polyphony. I wanted a lateral feeling, not a forward feeling. My ground rules were: every piece has to be very different, from a different point of view. I actually tried to break that rule later; if you make a rule then you also should break it!"

13) Egan said of herself, “I don’t experience time as linear. I experience it in layers that seem to coexist.”

14) Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad was inspired by Proust, whose most famous work is called À la recherche du temps perdu, which translates to “In Search of Lost Time.”

15) Egan related A Visit from the Goon Squad to “The Sopranos”: “There’s this lateral approach in “The Sopranos” in which a minor character suddenly becomes a major character for a while and then goes out of focus again, and the overarching story is almost invisible at times in the face of subplots and complications that are so engrossing that one almost would forget what the story.”

16) Egan had to research the music industry quite a bit in order to write A Visit from the Goon Squad.

17) In reference to why she writes, Egan said, “On the most basic level, I write out of a desire to, I don’t want to say escape because that makes it sound like my life is bad, but to transcend my own everyday experience and to get to live in a parallel world.”

18) When asked what she loves about living in San Francisco, Egan said, “I always have loved running along the Marina to the bridge.”

19) In addition, Egan said “I also always loved Broadway when it was a little wilder.”

20) Egan’s favorite San Francisco author is Ken Kesey. She said, of Kesey, “I think he qualifies, at least spiritually. Sometimes a Great Notion is a masterpiece.”

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Novels Written by Jennifer Egan

The Invisible Circus (1995)
She'd missed it, Phoebe knew by the silence. Crossing the lush, foggy park, she heard nothing but the drip of condensation running from ferns and palm leaves. By the time she reached the field, its vast emptiness came as no surprise.

Look at Me (2001)
Egan on Look at Me: “After writing The Invisible Circus, in which the action of the novel is rather fully explained psychologically, I wanted to write a book whose connections were felt rather than understood, a book that was more deeply mysterious.” (Note: Look at Me was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001.)

The Keep (2006)
The castle was falling apart, but at 2 a.m. under a useless moon, Danny couldn't see this. What he saw looked solid as hell: two round towers with an arch between them and across that arch was an iron gate that looked like it hadn't moved in three hundred years or maybe ever...

A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010)

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Short Fiction Written by Egan

Emerald City
Silas has a broken head. It happened sometime last night, outside The Limited on Geary and Powell. None of us saw. Silas says the fight was over a woman, and that he won it. "But you look like all bloody shit, my friend," Irish says, laughing, rolling the words off his accent. Silas says we should've seen the other guy....

Black Box
Egan first published this short story in a collection of tweets. You can read the story, in tweet form, here.

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Helpful Links

Interactive Character Map for A Visit from the Goon Squad

News Interview with Jennifer Egan.

PBS News Hour "Conversation" with Egan.

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This page compiled by Veronica Powell Hughes, Elizabeth Buzard, and Emma Hoyer.