October 1, 2012
7:00 pm
NYU Department of Journalism
20 Cooper Square, 7th Floor
New York, New York
Public Books presents


Alison Bechdel, author of Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama


in an interview with Jared Gardner


introduced by Sharon Marcus, Fiction Editor of Public Books


with a Q & A moderated by Lawrence Weschler

Popularly and critically acclaimed cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s first graphic memoir, Fun Home (2006), centered on the author’s fraught relationship with her father. In its companion piece, Are You My Mother? (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), Bechdel turns her inimitable tragicomic eye to the complicated figure of her distant mother, a thwarted artist trapped in a marriage to a closeted gay man. Bracing, brainy, and tender, Are You My Mother? poses fascinating questions—about women and literature, feminism and psychology, family ties and the relationship between patient and therapist.


The evening will begin with Bechdel reading from her new book. Regular Public Books contributor Jared Gardner, a scholar who specializes in graphic literature, will then interview Bechdel. A brief response will follow from journalist and author Lawrence Weschler, who will also lead a Q & A with the audience. The authors will be available after the event for book-signing.

Alison Bechdel is the author of the best-selling graphic memoirs Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama. For twenty-five years, she wrote and drew the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, considered “one of the preeminent oeuvres in the comics genre, period” (Ms.). Her work has appeared in Granta, Slate, The New York Times Book Review, and McSweeney’s, and she was the editor of The Best American Comics 2011.


Jared Gardner is Professor of English and Film Studies and Director of Popular Culture Studies at Ohio State University; his books include Projections: Comics and the History of Twenty-First-Century Storytelling (2012). He writes for The Huffington Post and is a regular contributor on comics and graphic novels to Public


Lawrence Weschler was, until his retirement in 2001, a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work ranged from political tragedies to cultural comedies. For the past twelve years he has been the director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, where he also teaches “The Fiction of Nonfiction” every spring.  His most recent books include Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism) and Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative.


Sharon Marcus is Orlando Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and the Fiction Editor of Public Books. She is the author of Apartment Stories: City and Home in Nineteenth-Century Paris and London(1999) and Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England(2007).




This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Public Knowledge, the Psyences Project, Columbia University’s Heyman Center for the Humanities and Department of English and Comparative Literature, and New York University’s Gallatin School and Gender and Sexuality Studies and American Studies programs.