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Havana: Writing in the shadow of Graham Greene

Writers have long been fascinated with Cuba, that long serpent of an island, the largest in the Caribbean that sits ninety miles from Florida. Just as there is Ernest Hemingway’s Paris and Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin, there is the Cuba of Graham Greene, whose novel, Our Man In Havana, creates a resonant image of expat Havana…

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Passion and Scandal in Cuba

Great books about Cuba from Earnest Hemingway, Alejo Carpentier, Graham Greene and more Writers have long been fascinated with Cuba, that great worm of an island, the largest in the Caribbean that sits ninety miles from Florida.  Just as there is Edith Wharton’s New York, and Mavis Gallant’s Paris, there is the Cuba of Ernest…

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Best Books By Ex-Spies

My essay from the Wall Street Journal. A Spy in Rome By Peter Tompkins (1962) 1. Peter Tompkins served in the Office of Strategic Services in Nazi-occupied Rome in early 1944. “Wild Bill” Donovan, the head of the OSS (the predecessor to the CIA), had recruited the brilliant, eccentric Tompkins, at the time a New…

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The Literary Spy Novel

First posted in Electric Literature: Family tragedy drew me to Cold War literary fiction. My uncle Frank Olson died sometime around 2:30 am on November 28, 1953 when he “jumped or fell” from his room on the thirteenth floor of the Statler Hotel in New York City. The New York Medical Examiner’s report contained that…

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Publisher's Weekly Top 10

Publisher’s Weekly selected An Honorable Man as one of its Top 10 mysteries and thrillers coming in 2016.  The editors start with hundreds of titles in the category and select 60 notable books from which they create a Top 10 list. The citation read:  Olen Steinhauer says that Vidich’s first novel, a Cold War spy…

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Why We Write

Each spring the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation selects five English speaking writers and five Bulgarian writers to participate in the Sozopol Fiction Seminar, which takes places in the tiny, historic town of Sozopol, Bulgaria, on the Black Sea. In 2011 I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of four American fellows, along with Kelly…

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