Loading Events

« All Events

Jane Smiley Talks Her New Book at Pegasus

July 20, 2023 | 7:00 pm

Pegasus Downtown welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley in celebration of the release of her new book, The Questions that Matter Most: Reading, Writing, and the Exercise of FreedomSmiley will read from, discuss, and sign her book. Books will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

About the book:

When it comes to writing—what questions matter most? From Dickens to Kafka and beyond, The Questions that Matter Most: Reading, Writing, and the Exercise of Freedom gathers 18 of bestselling novelist Jane Smiley’s most penetrating works for the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, and other outlets, as well as three new essays original to this book that assess the empathic, liberating power of the written word. 

In this volume, Smiley’s analytical terrain is capacious: She explores ancient Icelandic sagas; the paucity of maternal voices in literature; the radical muckraking of Jessica Mitford; child development vis-à-vis Little Women; dogged questions of virtue; the racial pitfalls of Mark Twain and the redemptive voice of Harriet Beecher Stowe—among myriad other concerns. Woven throughout are personal reflections on her own upbringing and identity and their influence on her writerly outlook.

Taken together, these meditations provoke the central tension of any reader’s experience, namely: What happens when the theory that a reader brings to a book rubs up against their sense of the world? And when those worlds collide, will the reader submit to prevailing narratives or resist?

“The entire time you are reading any novel, you are experiencing freedom and autonomy, and this is a political experience,” says Smiley, “You are also experiencing either agreement with the author or disagreement, and this is a political experience, too.”

Ultimately The Questions that Matter Most reveals that, like life, writing and reading are rooted in voluntary acts of connection—and that it remains critically important to remain ever-open to the intimacy, empathy, and unexpected turns that such an exercise entails. 

Register Here

About the Speaker

Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley is a novelist and essayist. Her novel A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992, and her novel The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton won the 1999 Spur Award for Best Novel of the West. She has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1987. Her novel Horse Heaven was short-listed for the Orange Prize in 2002, and her novel Some Luck was longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award. She has written for numerous magazines and newspapers, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, Harper’s, and the Nation. Her most recent novel, A Dangerous Business, was published in 2022. She lives in Carmel Valley, California.


P.O. Box 9145Berkeley, CA 94709(510) 549-3564

vertical logo for Heyday Books

Newsletter Sign Up




Use code heyday20 at checkout!

click here to copy code

Privacy Preference Center