“Ways and Means”
by Sana Krasikov
from the August 27, 2018 issue of The New Yorker
Last year, Sana Krasikov was named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists. I myself have never read any of her work. The last time she was published in The New Yorker was April of 2008, and I don’t think I read that story, called “The Repatriates.” Before that, she published “Companion” in the October 3, 2005 issue; this story went on to win an O’Henry Award. Her work must be impressive, though, because on the basis of a slim body, she not only got Granta’s honor, but in 2008 was a National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35.” In 2009 she was a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for distinguished first book of fiction, and won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Fiction. All of that was for her debut collection of stories, One More Year, released in 2008.
After One More Year came out, though, there was a long period between publications. Her next work, a debut novel called The Patriots, came out in October of last year. Some times I wonder if flooding a young writer with praise helps or hinders. Regardless of how everything may have played out for Krasikov, I’m excited to see what she’s doing.
“Ways and Means” looks quite interesting from the piece I read this morning. Oliver, a seasoned and old presence at a public radio station, has been placed on indefinite leave due to his conduct with a young podcaster. It begins with Oliver’s apology. In her interview with Cressida Leyshon (here), Krasikov says she got the idea “from months of reading one public apology after another, and feeling that they read less like apologies to specific victims and more like genuflections to a political movement.”
But “Ways and Means” doesn’t appear to be all about Oliver’s apology or about taking down this particular man. The person we follow most in the story is Hal, an audio engineer who has worked at the station for a decade, who once had an affair with Oliver, and who doesn’t believe the accusations. Krasikov’s explains that she hopes to explore this time “when individual morality has given way to a more politicized ‘group morality.'” Sounds interesting, and I hope she succeeds at giving us a nuanced exploration of this time we live in.
Does she? Please leave your comments below!