Love at first sight: a worthy literary concept

March 20, 2014 11:00 AM

Elisabeth Morgan

Writer Susan Choi discussed approaching transgressions within a love story, the concept of “coup de foudre” — love at first sight — in literature, and her process of navigating a compelling plot from the confines of a fallible first-person perspective on Monday evening (March 17) in the Freeman Auditorium of Woldenberg Art Center on the Tulane University uptown campus.

Susan Choi

Susan Choi talks to students about writing fiction during her visit to Zach Lazar’s class on Wednesday (March 19). Choi is this year’s Zale-Kimmerling Writer-in-Residence. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

Choi, this year’s Zale-Kimmerling Writer-in-Residence, also read from her latest novel, My Education.

In the scene from My Education, the protagonist, Regina, reluctantly welcomes an old friend and his new bride for a couples’ dinner party. The narrator’s dry description of the microcosm of an intimate party reveals sharp insights into the characters and their awkward social interactions and in the process exposes much about the complexities of daily life. 

“The best word I can think of to describe Choi’s work is ‘penetrating,’” said Tulane University junior Cora Boyd. “It is smart, unwinking and spans all realms — emotional, political and psychological.” 

My Education is a departure from Choi’s previous novels that were heavily researched and historically and politically based. 

“Before this, I had never written a book under the circumstances of having two children,” Choi said. “I consciously decided that I would write a book about relationships that didn’t require research.”

Zach Lazar, an assistant professor in the Tulane Department of English, interviewed Choi at the beginning of her week on the Tulane University campus, during which she visited several creative writing classes. 

When the microphone was opened for audience members to ask questions of Choi, one student inquired about being female in the publishing world. 

Choi said that when she was in her 20s and published her first book, “I thought the question of sexism in publishing was a big bore.”

Now, however, after publishing four books and watching so many careers, “I do think that women are published and considered differently.” 

Elisabeth Morgan is a freelance writer living in New Orleans. She graduated from Tulane University in 2011 with a BA in French and English.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000