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  • NYS Writers Institute

A conversation with novelist Eugene K. Garber

Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl sits down for a Zoom interview with Eugene K. Garber, whose newest novel Maison Cristina will be published Saturday.


Eugene Garber is the author of seven previous works of fiction including The Eroica Trilogy based on a hypermedia webwork, EROICA, created with eight other artists.


A Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of English at the UAlbany, Garber was born in Alabama, earned his B.A. at Tulane University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. He began teaching at UAlbany in 1977 and was acting associate director of the NYS Writers Institute from 1994-95.


Commenting on Garber's 2004 collection Beasts in Their Wisdom, novelist and Writers Institute Founder William Kennedy said, "In Garber's uncanny tales the margins of real and imaginary, human and animal give way to an eerie domain of magical ambiguity. A bear occupies a woman's imagination like a dybbuk, a randy goat transforms three lives, a woman has the throat of a doe, a commuter flight turns into a mythic journey. These are provocative stories, vividly written, and full of surprises -- the work of a grandly talented storyteller."


About the novel

Maison Cristina takes place in a small facility for the mentally ill operated by nuns. The plot revolves around an aging literary man and a young woman sunken by mysterious wounds into a state of catatonia.


Peter Naughton, former naval officer, story-teller, and soulful seeker, must revisit a dark past to vanquish a demon and heal his buried wounds. A crime has landed him in the asylum of Maison Cristina. Wearied and troubled, he must make a heroic effort to save another, and thereby redeem himself.


Charlene, a fellow patient, is the victim of a mysterious psychosexual wound that has left her catatonic. Working closely with head nun Sister Claire — his equal in intelligence, his superior in faith — Peter takes Charlene on an excursion through his memories and imagination. Can his storytelling unlock the secrets of her tragic wounding and restore her health, or will his tales create a tragic transformation?

For more information on Maison Cristina, visit eugenekgarber.com, where you can subscribe to Gene's email list.