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The Hard Crowd: Rachel Kushner & Wallace Shawn in Conversation

Rachel Kushner's latest collection, The Hard Crowd, addresses the most pressing political, artistic, and cultural issues of our times—and illuminates the themes and real-life experiences that inform the author's fiction. Kushner takes us on a journey through a Palestinian refugee camp, an illegal motorcycle race down the Baja Peninsula, 1970s wildcat strikes in Fiat factories, her love of classic cars, and her young life in the music scene of her hometown, San Francisco. The closing, eponymous essay is her manifesto on nostalgia, doom, and writing.

Wallace Shawn will join Kushner for a conversation on The Hard Crowd, our current political situation, and what it means for art to engage with our world.


Rachel Kushner’s latest book, The Hard Crowd, gathers a selection of her writing from over the course of the last twenty years. Kushner is also the author of The Mars Room, and The Flamethrowers, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times Top Five Novel of 2013. Her debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book. A collection of her early work, The Strange Case of Rachel K, was published by New Directions in 2015. Her fiction has appeared in the New YorkerHarper’s, and the Paris Review. She is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2016 Harold D. Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. More at

Wallace Shawn is an Obie Award–winning playwright and a noted stage and screen actor. His plays The Designated Mourner and Marie and Bruce have been produced as films, as has his adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s A Master Builder. He is co-author of the movie "My Dinner with André" and the author of the plays The FeverThe Designated MournerAunt Dan and Lemon, and Grasses of a Thousand Colors, as well as the nonfiction books Essays (featuring the essay “Why I Call Myself a Socialist”) and Night Thoughts (Haymarket Books). His latest play, Evening at the Talk House, premiered at the Socialism conference in Chicago and was performed at The National Theatre in London and The New Group in New York. His plays The Designated Mourner and Grasses of a Thousand Colors are available as multipart podcasts and can be found all all major podcast platforms.