On this episode of, “Literary Arts: The Archive Project,” we feature two virtual events form the 2021 Portland Book Festival with very different subjects, that take place nearly 1000 years apart, but that both feature powerful female protagonists and heroes changing their worlds. In the first half of our show, we feature Julia Cooke, author of “Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am.” She is in conversation with Amy Wang from The Oregonian in an event broadcast live from Powell’s Books in Portland. The evening of events was themed “Hidden Worlds,” and in Cooke’s book she takes us behind the scenes of one of the most important global enterprises of its day: Pan Am, the first modern-day international airline. Between 1966 and 1975, the airline and the women who staffed their flights played a crucial role in international affairs–especially in America’s role in Vietnam–far beyond what is commonly understood.
In the second half of our show, we feature Lauren Groff in an interview with Literary Arts’ Andrew Proctor. Groff is the author of six books of fiction. She rose to national recognition with her novel, “Fates and Furies,” published in 2015. Groff joined us from Florida for this virtual event, broadcast from Annie Bloom Books in Portland. Her new book, “Matrix,” had been just been published, so Groff and Proctor talked about writing a novel that was a significant departure from her previous work—part historical fiction and part magic realism–and what motivated her to create a story entirely populated by female characters with a plot that could perhaps be best described as feminist revisionist history.
Julia Cooke’s journalism has been published in Time, Smithsonian, and Condé Nast Traveler. She is the author of, “The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba,” and the daughter of a former Pan Am executive. Her new book is, “Come Fly the World: The Jet Age Story of the Women of Pan Am.”
Lauren Groff is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels and two short story collections. Her 2021 novel, “Matrix,” which Esquire described as “Incandescent… a radiant work of imagination and accomplishment,” was a National Book Award finalist and was selected by President Barack Obama as one of his favorite books of the year. Her works have won The Story Prize, the ABA Indies’ Choice Award, and France’s Grand Prix de l’Héroïne. Groff is a three-time finalist for the National Book Award and twice for the Kirkus Prize, and has been shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Prize, the Southern Book Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Prize. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute, and was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists. She lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and two sons.
Andrew Proctor has been the director of Literary Arts since 2009. Born and raised in Canada, Proctor, earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Music at Concordia University in Montreal, and later worked in London for the Cultural Attaché to the Canadian High Commission. In the UK, he also earned an MA in English Literature at the University of East Anglia under the supervision of England’s then Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion. From 2000-2004 Proctor worked as an editor for HarperCollins in New York City and then as the Membership and Operations Director of the PEN American Center, a global literary and human rights organization focused on the welfare of writers and editors. In total, Proctor has worked in the literary world for over twenty years in the governmental, for profit and nonprofit sectors.
Amy Wang covers Oregon’s literary scene and writes a books newsletter for The Oregonian, where she is a staff editor. She previously was on the editing staff of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Amy has a degree in journalism from Columbia University.