Waking from the American Dream

Recorded at the Improv Centre on October 21, 2014

These three Americans—all under 40—are rewriting the cultural persona of America for the world to meet anew. Joshua Ferris’ debut novel has been published in 25 languages and his third novel, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, “captures what it is to be alive in early 21st-century America.” Cristina Henríquez, writes another reviewer, “blows open any traditional definition of ‘American’.” And Matthew Thomas “comes close to a definitive portrait of American social dynamics in the 20th century.” These are exciting voices from a new generation of American writers whose perspectives on humanity and empathy go well beyond their country’s national boundaries. Waking from the American Dream was moderated by writer,literary critic and former Granta magazine editor John Freeman.

Joshua Ferris is the bestselling author of three novels, Then We Came to the End, The Unnamed and To Rise Again at a Decent Hour. He was a finalist for the National Book Award, a winner of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award, and was named one of The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 writers in 2010. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House and The Best American Short Stories. He lives in New York City.




Cristina Henríquez is the author of the story collection Come Together, Fall Apart, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection, and the novels The World in Half and her latest, The Book of Unknown Americans. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The American Scholar, Glimmer Train, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, AGNI and Oxford American, as well as in various anthologies. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.






Matthew Thomas was born in the Bronx and grew up in Queens. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he has an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine, where he received the Graduate Essay Award. He lives with his wife and twin children in New Jersey. We Are Not Ourselves is his first novel.