Lauren Groff, the acclaimed writer whose novel “Fates and Furies” was Barack Obama’s favorite book of 2015, found a completely subversive way to shut down a question about how she balances her career and motherhood.
“Until I see a male writer asked this question, I’m going to respectfully decline to answer it,” Groff told The Harvard Gazette in an interview published Tuesday.
The reporter for the university’s official news service, Colleen Walsh, had noted that Groff was a mother of two who had produced three novels and two short-story collections in the last decade. “Can you talk about your process and how you manage work and family?” she asked.
And that’s when Groff — politely, but firmly — turned the tables.
“I understand that this is a question of vital importance to many people, particularly to other mothers who are artists trying to get their work done, and know that I feel for everyone in the struggle,” she began, then noted that male authors are seldom asked the same question.
Groff, who is serving as a Radcliffe fellow at the university in the coming academic year, did discuss her subversive approach to fiction in works like “Fates and Furies,” a he-said-she-said portrait of a marriage, and “Florida,” a just-published collection of stories set mostly in her adopted home state.
“Florida signifies not only the geographical area to me, but also a metaphorical sense of the world, a deep, swampy dread covered by a glorious and unceasing pour of sunshine,” Groff said. “It’s simultaneously a symbol, microcosm, and critique of America.”