In How to Get into the Twin Palms, a 25-year-old Polish immigrant in LA takes on a new name (Anya) and a new mission: to get into the exclusive Russian club in her neighborhood. Believer editor Karolina Waclawiak’s debut novel has been called a “fresh and bizarre” take on the immigrant story, and her dark humor and engaging prose have landed it on various top-ten lists. (Plus, how awesome is the cover)? Karolina was able to share some fascinating tales of her public reading experiences, including feedback from Polish book clubs and the most memorable reading of her life.
- What’s one of the most memorable readings you’ve given and why?
I read in Seattle during my tour and ahead of that particular reading my publisher got an email from the Polish Book Club of Seattle saying they wanted to come see me read because they were thinking of choosing my book. I have never been more nervous, to be honest. I was really concerned with how the Polish community would feel about this book and so I considered toning down what I was going to read or running away. They interviewed me after for a Polish radio program and told me they really loved the book and that was amazing to me. I started getting emails from people in Poland because of the radio program, including the city librarian of Lodz, where I was born. He wanted me to come read at the library the next time I came to Poland. It incredible to see the response.
- Any particularly intriguing (or conversely, awkward) audience questions that have stuck with you?
Someone read the first line of my book out loud to me at a reading (I see a couple from the Twin Palms fucking against their car across the street from my apartment) and then asked why I chose to start my book that way. I think that falls somewhere in between awkward and intriguing.
- What’s a reading that you’ve attended that you’ll never forget?
In 1996 (when I was 16), I went to Central Park SummerStage and saw Jim Carroll and Richard Hell read. It was pure magic and an experience I will never forget. I thought, this is truth. I realized there was a different kind of way to write then.
Photo credit: Eric Burg.