Joshua Ferris is the author of four novels, including Then We Came to the End, The Unnamed, and To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, plus a collection of stories, The Dinner Party. He is the winner of a Barnes Noble Discover Award, a Dylan Thomas Prize, and a PEN/Hemingway Award.
His most recent novel is A Calling for Charlie Barnes (Little, Brown; Sept. 28), a metafictional romp starring the titular character, a down-on-his-luck investment advisor working out of his basement, who receives a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Or has he? And is son Jake Barnes, the narrator of this shaggy-dog story who happens to share his name with a Hemingway protagonist, telling us the truth, the full truth, and nothing but the truth?
From the Kirkus review of A Calling for Charlie Barnes: “By the time Ferris’ fourth novel opens in the fall of 2008, on the day Charlie receives a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, the man has seen a lot of great business ideas go down in flames. The flying toupee, the herbicide, the clown franchise, the art school—not even the investment firm for retirees has panned out for this one-time employee of Bear Stearns. Though his son Jake, a successful novelist who pals around with the McEwans in the Cotswolds, claims he ‘promised the old man to tell it straight this time, to stick to the facts for once,’ the reader may have their doubts.…Good old-fashioned faux metafiction about death and family, full of panic and glee.”
In this video interview conducted from Ferris’ home in upstate New York, the author discusses writing humorously about serious subjects; why the obvious—and incorrect—name for the novel’s narrator was “Joshua Ferris”; and why A Calling for Charlie Barnes was fun to write and also a “perfect pain in the ass.”