ImprovNotes April 2016 Artist of the Month: Sarah Sun-Lien Bynum


Sarah Sun-Lien Bynum: “Stories only happen for me when things don’t go according to plan.”

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum is the author of two novels: Ms. Hempel Chronicles, a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award, and Madeleine Is Sleeping, a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award and winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. Her fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including the New Yorker, Ploughshares, Tin House, the Georgia Review, and the Best American Short Stories 2004 and 2009.  In the April 4 New Yorker, Sarah Sun-Lien Bynum describes how improvisation informs her latest published short story, The Burglar, in which a marginalized black characterjumps into the story, in a twist that has a touch of pulp and a touch of unease. Through a ‘rift in the space-time continuum,’ he ends up in the present day.” The author explains, “this is the moment that my draft started to become a story, when it departed from the model that had enabled me to begin writing it. I find this to be true in general, that stories only happen for me when things don’t go according to plan.” Sun-Lien Bynum is the sister of well-known improvising cornetist/ cyclist/ composer Taylor Ho Bynum.

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