Cobble Hill Book Launch Party Slated for July 20
By Samantha Samel
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
“Anyone who’s ever had trouble making ends meet is going to find themselves in this story,” Brooklyn-based writer Jenna Leigh Evans says of her new novel, “Prosperity,” which is set in a newfangled debtor’s prison. “And hopefully,” she adds, they’ll “even find the humor in it.”
The Gowanus resident has recently announced the release of her darkly humorous book, which will be celebrated with a Brooklyn launch party on July 20 at 61 Local in Cobble Hill.
In “Prosperity,” the nation has finally figured out how to make deadbeats pay up: a modern, luxurious debtors' prison housed in a shopping mall. When irritable hobo Percy first gets there, she’s as lonely as she is broke,and the only person who will talk to her is Lita, a drug-dealing New Age priestess she’d rather avoid. But when Percy uncovers sinister machinations behind the program’s helpful façade, Lita becomes the only one Percy can trust — and perhaps the key to her survival.
Evans explains that some have characterized the work as science fiction, but she believes the situations she portrays are becoming a reality. “The news articles are piling up,” she says. “People getting thrown in jail by for-profit companies for minor infractions; this whole shadow world of detention centers where they use the detainees for cheap labor; prisoners getting charged rent on their cells...Americans are getting shafted in ways that are far more outrageous than any fiction I could dream up.”
Evans, who has lived in Brooklyn for seven years, has extensive experience with government assistance, minimum-wage jobs and homelessness. Now, she tells the Brooklyn Eagle, her Brooklyn home is “a constant source of creative inspiration, especially for dialogue. There are exchanges in my novel that are just snippets of dialogue I've overheard on the street, verbatim. The variety of speech rhythms, forms of wit and repartee — it's a treasure chest. Also, there are sharp divisions between rich and poor here, and since I write a lot about class issues, that inspires me too.”
Evans feels fortunate to pursue the craft of writing in Brooklyn, where there are several devoted indie bookstores and numerous spaces for readings. “Most of all,” she told the Eagle, “writing is a respected endeavor here — which means a lot in the current cultural climate, where it can be hard to get respect for any enterprise that isn't necessarily tied to financial gain.”
The July 20 book launch event will take place at 61 Local (61 Bergen St. in Cobble Hill) from 5 to 9 p.m. “Prosperity” is available in both English and Spanish wherever e-books are sold, with a print-on-demand option. You may view the book trailer on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeyCJIZzUFM.
Jenna Leigh Evans has been published in fiction anthologies and literary blogs nationwide, and was recently named as one of LAMBDA Literary’s Emerging Voices of 2014.