Acclaimed young writer, Allegra Hyde, visited Dublin School on Friday morning. She read two short stories from her recently published book “Of This New World” and then visited a number of English classes throughout the morning. A native of Peterborough, New Hampshire, Ms. Hyde received her B.A. from Williams College and her M.F.A. from Arizona State University. Her stories and essays have been published in the New England Review, the Gettysburg Review, The Missouri Review, and many other venues. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, as well as a notable mention in Best American Essays 2015.
Winner of the 2016 John Simmons Short Fiction Award, Allegra Hyde's debut story collection, Of This New World, offers a menagerie of utopias: real, imagined, and lost. Starting with the Garden of Eden and ending in a Mars colony, the stories wrestle with conflicts of idealism and practicality, communal ambition and individuality, but all ask that fundamental human question: is paradise really so impossible?
In an interview with the Chicago Review of Books she describes her focus: “I’ve been obsessed with the idea of utopia for many years. What draws people to seek paradise? What keeps them from finding it? This interest naturally emerged in my fiction through stories specifically about intentional communities, as well as in stories about the individual pursuit of ideals. I wrote about many different types of people—from Shakers to Mars colonists—because I wanted to consider the implications of utopian thinking from different angles and perspectives. Living in a utopian community means different things for parents than it does for children, for instance. Or for who lives inside a community and who lives just beyond the border. I tried to cover a lot of ground in Of This New World in an effort to present a holistic narrative.”
In response to a student question on process, Ms. Hyde talked about how she isn’t always aware of where her stories are going as she writes. She finds this a strength of her writing - something she refers to as “writing into the mystery”. She revealed that when she plans a story if “feels flat” and uninteresting. In the Chicago Review of Books she described it this way, “If I know where a story is headed before I write it, the story usually doesn’t work out. If there’s no excitement built in for me as an author, there probably won’t be any for my readers. My best stories are often the ones that surprise me while I’m writing them—whether in turns of language, plot, or form. When a story is really working, it gives me butterflies. It’s like meeting a crush: there’s chemistry between me and the tangle of text. Half the excitement is in not knowing where things are headed but still hoping for a good time.”