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Encore: High latitude magnetism: Maggie Shipstead’s ‘Great Circle’

Maggie Shipstead
Maggie Shipstead

This week, we revisit Lauren’s conversation with novelist Maggie Shipstead. Clocking in at 600 pages, Shipstead’s Great Circle is the epic story of the fictional Marian Graves, a Missoula, Montana-born pilot, whose North-South around-the-world adventure is told painstakingly, achingly, and gracefully. This immense book, which spans multiple centuries and countries, is an enormously pleasurable read. Its generous narratives, pulsing with emotion and wonder, beg the question, “What will you do with your one life?”

About Maggie:

Maggie Shipstead is the New York Times-bestselling author of the novels Seating ArrangementsAstonish Me, and Great Circle, and the winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, and the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Her writing has appeared in many places, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the Wall Street JournalTravel + LeisureDeparturesCondé Nast TravelerOutsideThe Best American Short Stories, and The Best American Sports Writing. In 2012 and 2018, she was a National Magazine Award finalist for fiction. She lives in Los Angeles.

Maggie Shipstead recommends:

The Ice Balloon by Alec Wilkinson (Alfred A. Knopf)

Possession by A.S. Byatt (Everyman’s Library)

West Was the Night by Beryl Markham (North Point Press)

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Hachette Book Group)

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Penguin Random House)

The Signature of All Thingsby Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead Books)

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Grand Central Publishing)

Veronica by Mary Gaitskill (Vintage Books)

Lauren Korn recommends:

Cloudmaker by Malcolm Brooks (Grove Atlantic)

West Was the Night by Beryl Markham (North Point Press)

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday, Penguin Random House)

The Waves by Virginia Woolf (Vintage Classics)

This episode was produced by Lauren Korn, host and co-producer; Peter Hoag, co-producer and editor; and Beth Anne Austein, sound engineer.

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now an Arts and Culture Producer at Montana Public Radio and the host of it’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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