Today we're excited to chat with Jesse Andrews, author of MunMun. Read on for more about Jesse and his book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Jesse Andrews!
Jesse Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and the screenwriter of that book’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize–winning movie adaptation. He’s also the author of The Haters, which Booklist called “effortlessly readable, deeply enjoyable,” in a starred review. He lives in Oakland.
In an alternate reality a lot like our world, every person’s physical size is directly proportional to their wealth. The poorest of the poor are the size of rats, and billionaires are the size of skyscrapers.
Warner and his sister Prayer are destitute—and tiny. Their size is not just demeaning, but dangerous: day and night they face mortal dangers that bigger richer people don’t ever have to think about, from being mauled by cats to their house getting stepped on. There are no cars or phones built small enough for them, or schools or hospitals, for that matter—there’s no point, when no one that little has any purchasing power, and when salaried doctors and teachers would never fit in buildings so small. Warner and Prayer know their only hope is to scale up, but how can two littlepoors survive in a world built against them?
A brilliant, warm, funny trip, unlike anything else out there, and a social novel for our time in the tradition of 1984 or Invisible Man. Inequality is made intensely visceral by an adventure and tragedy both hilarious and heartbreaking.
A Chat with Jesse Andrews:
1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I think the seed was planted in the spring of my senior year of college, when I watched in amazement and horror as huge numbers of my classmates were hoovered up by the finance industry—some had been lizard-eyed mercenaries since day one of freshman year, but plenty were bright thoughtful kids who could have contributed to the world in any number of ways, and yet they ended up committing their talents and imaginations to enriching the already rich (and, of course, themselves). For me it was a window onto one of the most powerful structures enforcing our country’s gonzo, nightmarish inequality: the way the free market allows the owners of capital (financial, intellectual, and otherwise) to suck ever more capital unto themselves, like dying stars, or black holes. I had the desire to write about it ever since. But not the means, until that image cohered abruptly one night in my mind a couple of years ago—a rich person literally as an enormous physical body moving through space, and poor people as tiny bodies that could be trampled underfoot.
2. Who is your favorite character in the book?
The answer should probably be Warner, the protagonist and narrator, but we’re too close for him to be my favorite. Instead it’s his sister Prayer, who sort of secretly is the funniest and toughest and most interesting character in the book.
3. Which came first, the title or the novel?
I was maybe thirty pages into the novel when I realized the title was “Munmun.” I got a lot of pushback, especially from the book’s marketers—and justifiably so, because this title is a nonsense word that doesn’t mean anything to anyone. But there just wasn’t another title.
4. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
It feels kind of gross to be especially proud of a scene in your own book. It feels basically the same as announcing you like to smell your own farts.
5. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
Revising is the most important part, and the fastest and best way to get good at revising is to get as far outside yourself as you can. Find people you trust, and listen to what they tell you about your work. Listen so well that you begin to become those people. Figure out how to read your own work with their eyes. Realize that you will never actually be able to do this. So try to get better at it every day.
6. What’s up next for you?
The usual mix of books and movies. I recently wrote a script about the final years of the concert pianist Vladimir Horowitz that my friend David Gelb (JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI) is putting together to direct, and I am really excited to see it come together. I’m not sure what my next book is going to be. I am currently trying to choose from about five different ideas.
10. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Revising for sure. Not just because that’s where the most important work happens. Also because the first draft is always bad and writing it feels like confirmation of your long-held suspicion that you are a fraud, millimeters from being exposed.
By: Jesse Andrews
Release Date: April 3, 2018