Peter Nathaniel Malae is the author of the novels, Our Frail Blood (2013), an epic about the dissolution of an American family in three generations; What We Are (2010), a New York Times Editor’s Choice, winner of the San Francisco Foundation’s Joseph Henry Jackson Award and a finalist for the Pacific Northwest Book Award; and the story collection, Teach the Free Man (2007), a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, the Glasgow Prize and a notable book selection by the Story Prize. He is a former John Steinbeck, Arts Council Silicon Valley and MacDowell Colony Fellow.
What did the Fellowship or Laureate mean to you at the time you received it?
In all practicality, it meant paying my rent and back rent. Personally, it meant a hell of a lot to me because San Jose is my home, where I was raised, went to school, played sports, etc. As I wanted to write a novel which captured the South Bay ethos, it was thus cool to see South Bay judges endorse my work. Later, when I got a two-book deal with Grove/Atlantic, my agent was able to use the legitimacy of the fellowship and other awards I'd won as contract leverage. Plus, I got to read at the Triton Museum, outside of which I used to play tackle football with my brother and friends as kids!
What do you do now? Has your art evolved or changed?
I continue to write 500 words every day, a discipline I've maintained since May '99. I've published a story collection - TEACH THE FREE MAN, which was a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award and a Story Prize notable book; also two novels - WHAT WE ARE, a New York Times Editor's Choice and San Francisco Foundation Joseph Henry Jackson Award winner, and OUR FRAIL BLOOD. I have two finished poetry manuscripts I'm shopping around; a finished short story collection I'm shopping; a finished screenplay I don't know at all what to do with; I'm one scene from finishing my first play and I'm working on two big novels presently. I don't know that my art has evolved or changed, but I'm maybe too clogged up to say one way or another.... Go here to see (and buy) my books: http://www.peternathanielmalae.com/#!books/cnec
What is one piece of advice you would give to an emerging artist?
Consider, and then directly address, the meaning of the long haul.
Briefly, how would you describe the state of the arts locally, as well as national and beyond?
Here in Oregon: muy blanco. Here in America: in need of a center. Out in the World: too vast and diverse to qualify in 5,000 let alone 5 words.