Lev Grossman is “one of this country’s smartest and most reliable critics,” says The New York Times, but—and this is rare—he’s also a popular novelist. His #1 bestselling Magicians trilogy has transformed fantasy and is now a hit TV series on Syfy. George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) writes: “The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea.”
Grossman’s #1 New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy has been published in 25 countries. It debuted as an NBC/Universal television series on the SyFy channel this January. Entertainment Weekly calls the new show “a looking-glass fiction held up to a world cluttered with looking-glass fictions” and an “American pop-aware enterprise with an abundance of salty cynicism and sex magic, plus a sinister force of antagonism.” To The Hollywood Reporter, The Magicians’ “ability to be entertaining and compelling with remarkable consistency ... is a real and pleasant surprise.”
“This gripping novel draws on the conventions of contemporary and classic fantasy novels in order to upend them, and tell a darkly cunning story about the power of imagination itself … An unexpectedly moving coming-of-age story.”— The New Yorker on The Magicians
For the past decade, Grossman has been both the book critic and the lead technology writer at Time, covering virtually every cultural and technological revolution of the new millennium. (A graduate of both Harvard and Yale, he was the first journalist to make a call on the iPhone!). When Time chose ‘You’ as its Person of the Year in 2006, Grossman wrote the story; he did it in 2010 again for Mark Zuckerberg. He has interviewed and profiled the major drivers of cultural change in the Internet era, from Steve Jobs to Jonathan Franzen to John Green. Grossman has also written for Wired, The Believer, and The Village Voice among many others.
His next book is tentatively titled The Bright Sword. Set after the fall of Camelot, it “will tell of the knights following in the wake of King Arthur, Sir Lancelot and others of the Round Table,” according to the Viking Books.
An Evening with Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman’s intelligence, unique voice and unrivalled access have made him a cult figure and an essential commentator on contemporary life. His expertise and insights cross from high tech to high culture, from academic to mainstream, center to fringe, video games to literary fiction. He can talk about fan fiction, quantum computing, drone warfare, the Singularity, libraries, the evolution of the book, the power of fantasy, and the changing way we tell stories now, among many other topics. A riveting and always entertaining speaker, Grossman is an inexhaustible fund of illuminating anecdotes and penetrating, unsparingly frank insights into the way we live and read and watch and browse now.
Why Fantasy Matters
Fantasy literature is routinely dismissed as kids’ stuff—escapist fluff for children and young adults who aren’t ready for grown-up reality. The truth is very different. Grossman discusses the importance of fantasy, and what the current popular obsessions with Middle Earth, Narnia, Twilight and his own bestselling work really mean. Drawing on his work as a critic for Time magazine, and his academic training at Harvard and Yale, Grossman shows how history of fantasy goes back to the dawn of culture, through Homer, Dante, Shakespeare and Milton. Fantasy isn’t about avoiding reality; it’s about leaving it behind, only to re-encounter it in a transfigured form.
The State of the Novel The Great Rebalancing
What’s happening in contemporary fiction, right now? How did we get here, and where are we going? In the 20th century writers staged the deconstruction of plot and story as we know it, but in the new millennium novelists are falling back in love with storytelling, and the old categories of high and low, literary fiction and genre fiction, are being broken down in a grand shift Grossman calls the Great Rebalancing. This sweeping assessment of the state of the novel traces the trends that have shaped its evolution and will take it forward into the future.
From Scroll to Scrolling The Past and Future of Reading
With the coming of the digital revolution, books and reading are going through a transformation such as occurs only once in a millennium, one that will reshape the way readers read and writers write and booksellers sell. To understand it you have to go back to the last time such a change occurred—back past Gutenberg and the printing press to the first century CE, when the Western world abandoned the scroll in favor of the bound book as we know it. That moment is the key to understand what’s happening now, and the consequences of adopting new reading technology faster than we can understand it.
The Great Social Media Experiment
If you want to understand how social media like Facebook and Twitter work, and what they mean, you have to look at how they happened: by accident. The story of social media is the story of the great social experiment of the Internet, which was founded on the anarchical ideals of the 1960s. When it failed, the generation born in the 1980s took over the Internet and rebuilt it according to its own values, and social media are the result.