Mendelsohn, who has devoted his career to nonfiction—memoir, translation and criticism—discusses his latest collection of essays, (Waiting for the Barbarians), with novelist and essayist Lethem (The Ecstasy of Influence), as the two celebrate (and commiserate) the blessings and curses of the contemporary essay form.
Daniel Mendelsohn is an award-winning author, critic, essayist, and translator, and author of seven books. His book The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, the 2006 account of his search for information about six relatives who perished in the Holocaust, was a New York Times- and international bestseller and won the National Books Critics Circle Award, among many other honors. In 2009 he published an acclaimed translation, with commentary, of the complete works of C. P. Cavafy. His most recent book is a collection of essays, Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture. Mendelsohn teaches at Bard College.
Jonathan Lethem is the critically acclaimed author of eight novels, including Motherless Brooklyn and his latest, Chronic City. His recent book of essays, The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc. is just out in paperback. His essays have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Harper's, and elsewhere.