How do we learn who we are, or who we aren’t? How big a role does our family play in who we become; and how much can we successfully rewrite our own histories?
The possibility of reinvention lies at the heart of Rebecca Makkai’s newest novel, The Hundred Year House. Part mystery, part family drama, part ghost story, and wholly engaging and entertaining, The Hundred Year House is set in a fictional house in the Midwest that once housed an artist’s colony, and which has many, many secrets left a century later.
"It's a story that is in some ways a ghost story, and in some ways not. No ghost is going to pop out at you, but there's always the question of ghosts, who's haunting the place. One of the answers to that question is that we are the ghosts, the readers. We are the ones who have witnessed all of this history. We are the only ones who can put it together. And we're uniquely unable to convey that information to the people who need to know it, and that's the position a ghost is in," says Makkai.
The novel also tells its stories in reverse – starting from the year 2000 and moving backward in sections to the beginning in 1900. The reader ends up knowing the full story, even as none of the characters do.
Rebecca Makkai is a writer from Chicago and spoke with Lake Effect's Bonnie North while in Milwaukee to appear at a Boswell Book Company reading and discussion of her new novel on August 6th.