In Conversation: On Hieroglyphics & The Boy in the Field

Contemplative, tense, and tinged with poignancy, Hieroglyphics, Jill McCorkle’s latest novel – in which past traumas and bleak circumstances inform and compel her richly drawn characters – has been lauded as […]


In Conversation: On Hieroglyphics & The Boy in the Field

Authors:Leigh Haber, Margot Livesey, Jill McCorkle


Contemplative, tense, and tinged with poignancy, Hieroglyphics, Jill McCorkle’s latest novel – in which past traumas and bleak circumstances inform and compel her richly drawn characters – has been lauded as a “powerful narrative web” by Publishers Weekly. Joining her is Margot Livesey, whose latest novel is The Boy in the Field. It’s a story of how a single act of violence impels three young siblings on separate and unexpected trajectories, paths that will forever change their lives. Speaking with them is Leigh Haber, Books Editor for O, the Oprah Magazine, and the editorial director for Oprah’s Book Club.

Leigh Haber

Leigh Haber is books editor for O, the Oprah Magazine/oprahmag.com and editorial director for Oprah’s Book Club. In her spare time, she reads.

Margot Livesey

Margot Livesey is the New York Times bestselling author of eight novels including The Flight of Gemma Hardy, The House on Fortune Street, and Banishing Verona, Eva Moves the Furniture, The Missing World, Criminals, and Homework. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Vogue, and the Atlantic. In The Boy in the Field (HarperCollins) Margot Livesey tells the coming-of-age story of teenagers Matthew, Zoe, and Duncan Lang. One September afternoon in 1999 they are walking home from school when they discover a boy lying in a field, bloody and unconscious. Thanks to their intervention, the boy’s life is saved. In the aftermath, all three siblings each engage in a deeply personal search and they are irrevocably changed. Over the course of the autumn, as each of the siblings confronts the complications and contradictions of their approaching adulthood, they find themselves at once drawn together and driven apart. Publishers Weekly called it “A distinctive blend of literary fiction and psychological thriller…. Precise prose, cool observation, and tight pacing will keep readers turning the pages. This is a memorable twist on the coming-of-age tale.”

Jill McCorkle

Jill McCorkle’s first two novels were released simultaneously when she was just out of college, and the New York Times called her “a born novelist.” Since then, she has published six novels and four collections of short stories. Her most recent novel, Life After Life, was a New York Times bestseller. She has written for the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Garden and Gun, the Atlantic, and other publications. In Hieroglyphics (Algonquin Books) McCorkle speaks to the burden of secrets carried across generations. Lil and Frank married young, launched into courtship when they bonded over how they both—suddenly, tragically— lost a parent when they were children. Now, having retired, Lil is determined to leave a history for their children, perhaps revealing more secrets than Frank wants their children to know. Hieroglyphics reveals the difficulty of ever really knowing the intentions and dreams and secrets of the people who raised you. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it “Engrossing . . . McCorkle finds an elegant mix of wistfulness and appreciation for life. […] This is a gem.”