Understanding Jennifer Egan is the first book-length study of the novelist, short-story writer, and journalist best known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad. Alexander Moran examines each of Egan's varied published works, analyzes how her journalism informs her fiction, excavates her literary and intellectual influences, and considers her place in contemporary fiction.
Moran argues that because Egan's fiction is not easily categorized many of her novels have been underappreciated. He proposes a framework for understanding her writing centered on what it means to have, and to write, an "authentic" experience. In Emerald City, Egan explores the authenticity of touristic experience; in The Invisible Circus, her focus shifts to the authenticity of historical memory; in Look at Me, The Keep, and A Visit from the Goon Squad, she explores the effects of digital technology on how we understand authentic experience. In the concluding chapter, Moran discusses Egan's 2017 novel Manhattan Beach as a text that explores the authenticity of history and genre while resonating with the instability of the present.
Alexander Moran, Faculty Chair for Excellence in Undergraduate and Graduate Writing at Stanbridge University, is the editor of Conversations with Jennifer Egan.