The Paris Review

Real Space: An Interview with Patty Yumi Cottrell

I think writers attend M.F.A. programs to meet people like Patty Yumi Cottrell—or at least, I did. When we met in our first semester, she was a quietly focused and deeply intelligent student who sat back from the pack as we clamored for attention and support. Cottrell and I began sending each other work, and the constructions of the classroom soon felt secondary. Reading the forceful clarity of her sentences, how they openly wrestle with their influences while still feeling original—somehow both arch and sincere—I knew I was in on a secret that wouldn’t stay hidden for long.

Sorry to Disrupt the Peace announces Cottrell’s arrival. A manic detective story about a young woman seeking to understand the suicide of her adoptive brother, her debut novel is prickly, hilarious, and extremely sad. I interviewed Cottrell over the phone, and what was meant to be an hour-long conversation gave way easily to four (and more than 120 pages of transcription). Cottrell talks like she writes—with great authority and considerable anxiety—and I left our conversation as I left her book: feeling electrified and knowing I would have stuck with it for as long as it would have me. 

INTERVIEWER

I’ve been reading your work for something like six years now, and this book marks a departure for you. It’s more straightforward than your earlier

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Paris Review

The Paris Review3 min read
Susannah Hunnewell, 1966–2019
Photograph by Stephen Andrew Hiltner. The Paris Review mourns the loss of publisher Susannah Hunnewell, friend, colleague, and luminous presence at the magazine for three decades, who passed away on June 15 at her home in New York. She was 52. Susann
The Paris Review8 min read
On Summer Crushing
Whitney Houston in 1991 Friends and heartthrobs of the past, future, and present: where I am now, the temperature has begun its slow climb, and summer is preparing its eviction notice for all the gentle breezes and drives with windows down and the in
The Paris Review4 min read
Staff Picks: Jai Paul, Journalists, and Just Policies
Olga Tokarczuk. Photo: © K. Dubiel. How to describe Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead? Unlike her Man Booker International Prize–winning novel Flights, Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead—first published in Poland in