Jeff Grunthaner speaks with author Joshua Henkin about his latest novel, The World Without You, about an American family contending with elements beyond their control.
Joshua Henkin’s latest novel, The World Without You, details the emotionally complex homecoming of the estranged Frankel family, an event prompted by a memorial service in honor of the recently deceased Leo Frankel—a young journalist whose untimely and public death in the Iraq War has catapulted the Frankels to the status of reluctant national celebrities. What impressed me about the novel was that Henkin never uses the plot of the novel to make partisan statements on the political state of the US. Rather, he dedicates himself to the cause of realism, creating an impartial world which doesn’t reduce itself to a single meaning or message. I recently had the chance sit with the author and talk to him about the creative process underlying The World Without You, why he deliberately avoids political commentary, and how his use of language reflects his views on the art of the novel.
Jeffrey Grunthaner Your novel is about 300 pages long. How much did you originally have, and how much was ultimately edited out?
Joshua Henkin I had about 2,000 pages. In my last book, my first draft was about 3,000 pages. I just throw out a lot of pages. To me, it’s all part of the rewriting process. You need to write a lot of bad pages in order to get to the good ones.