Vendela Vida

in conversation with Tom Barbash


Recorded Saturday, February 13th, 2021

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Vendela Vida in conversation with Tom Barbash

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Vendela Vida’s newest release, We Run the Tides is an achingly beautiful story of female friendship, betrayal, and a mysterious disappearance set in the changing landscape of San Francisco.

Vendela is the award-winning author of six books, including Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty. She is a founding editor of The Believer magazine, and co-editor of The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers and Confidence, or the Appearance of Confidence, a collection of interviews with musicians. Two of Vida’s novels have been New York Times Notable Books of the year, and she is the winner of the Kate Chopin Award, given to a writer whose female protagonist chooses an unconventional path. She was a founding board member of 826 Valencia, the San Francisco writing center for youth, and lives in the Bay Area with her family. 

Tom Barbash is the author of the novels The Dakota Winters and  The Last Good Chance and the non-fiction books On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, and 9/11; A Story of Loss and Renewal, which was a New York Times bestseller. His stories and articles have been published in Tin HouseMcSweeney’sVirginia Quarterly Review, and other publications, and have been performed on National Public Radio’s Selected Shorts series. He currently teaches in the MFA program at California College of the Arts. He grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and now lives in Marin County, California.

We Run the Tides is saturated with feeling from the very start. It’s hypnotic, knowing, sometimes funny and always propulsive as it examines girlhood, friendship, and the strong pull of the past.”

– Meg Wolitzer

A personal note from Vendela Vida.

Sent following her Conversations with Authors session.

Dear friends of Book Passage,

Thank you so much for showing up on Saturday evening to hear me and Tom Barbash talk about writing—and to hear a little bit of background music courtesy of the restaurant behind my office. I’m sorry to miss out on meeting you in person, but it means the world to me that you spent some time with us and supported one of my favorite bookstores, Book Passage.

Elaine Petrocelli asked me to share some of my favorite reads from the past year; here they are:

Tom Barbash’s The Dakota Winters is a deeply affecting and very funny book about a talk-show host and his family living in NYC’s legendary Dakota building—home of John Lennon, among others—in the 1980s. This is pure pleasure.

If you’re a fan of literary mysteries, I highly recommend Sarah Stewart Taylor’s The Mountains Wild, which brings noir to the gorgeous settings of rural Ireland.

Ron Nyren’s The Book of Lost Light is a beautifully written novel, set in the Bay Area, about a father and son in the early days of photography. It also has one of the best titles ever conceived.

I love debut novels. That first crack of a new voice. Two first novels published last year that I admired were Sanaë Lemoine’s The Margot Affair and Raven Leilani’s Luster.

Kevin Wilson’s Nothing to See Here was one of the funniest books I read last year. Every single person I push it on feels the same.

Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country is growing in stature every year, thank god, and Jia Tolentino’s introduction in the new edition is fantastic.

I’m currently reading The Copenhagen Trilogy by Danish writer Tove Ditlevsen and am in awe. Such economy and such power.

There are a few writers who I feel like I’m “graduating” with. We all have books coming out around now, and though we’ve never met in person, we’ve met virtually and cheered each other on during the publication process. I’m really looking forward to reading Ellie Eaton’s The Divines, Brandon Hobson’s The Removed, and Andrew Graff’s Raft of Stars

I’m so excited about Tragic Magic by Wesley Brown. Originally published in 1978 and edited by Toni Morrison, it’s about a Black conscientious objector to the Vietnam War who does time for his views. An underappreciated classic. As part of their Of the Diaspora series, McSweeney’s will be publishing this new edition this April.

Please stay safe and continue supporting your local bookstore!