HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Padgett Powell

Author of You & Me and The Interrogative Mood


  • You & Me
  • The Interrogative Mood
  • Edisto
  • Selected Readings from Short Story Collections
  • On Writing: Craft, the Real Versus the Surreal, the South, Etc.



In 2009, Padgett Powell's The Interrogative Mood (Ecco) became a cult hit and was named one of the best books of the year by Amazon.com, GQ, The Believer, and Time Out New York. Playful and profound, Powell's book is an exuberant meditation on life and language. His newest book, You & Me(Ecco), is reminiscent of Samuel Beckett and features two loquacious men sitting on a porch deep in the south discussing everything from love and sex to how best to live and how best to die. With his fresh, unique perspective on life in America, Powell is a perfect fit for universities, distinguished lecture series, literary festivals, libraries, cultural societies, and museums.

Powell first burst on the scene in 1984 with his debut novel Edisto, about a 12-year-old boy who spends his childhood in an isolated town along the coast of South Carolina and is possessed of a vocabulary beyond his years. Nominated for the National Book Award and featured in The New Yorker, Edisto put Powell on the literary map. He is also the author of Edisto Revisited and Mrs. Hollingsworth's Men, as well as two short story collections. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Paris Review, Esquire, and in anthologies including Best American Short Stories and Best American Sports Writing.

Powell received his bachelor degree in chemistry from the College of Charleston before pursuing his master's degree in English from the University of Houston. He has served as a writing professor at the University of Florida since 1984, and has received numerous literary awards, including the Whiting Writers' Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Henfield Foundation's Transatlantic Review Award, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He also received a fellowship in Rome, Italy from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and served as a writer-in-residence for the William Faulkner Foundation at the University of Rennes in France.

Praise for You & Me:

"This book is a rare thing: experimental writing with powerful narrative drive. I finished it feeling quieted -- by its melancholic probing -- and exhilarated by its comic style."
-- John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead and Blood Horses

"There are few writers who understand both the beauty and the absurdity of language as well as Padgett Powell. Though his two characters often tell each other that they have nothing to say, these are Nobel-big concerns, presented the way all grand truths should be delivered, with humor and tenderness."
-- Kevin Wilson, bestselling author of The Family Fang

"Padgett Powell's You & Me, mixed with 750 ml of fine bourbon, is the most fun you can have in many states without getting arrested. Braver, tougher, smarter than most of the fiction supposedly pushing the envelope. Why? Because it actually means something."
-- Gary Shteyngart, bestselling author of Super Sad True Love Story

"[Powell's] characters might be all talk and no walk, but what wonderful talk it is. . . . Powell, in his recent work, has set his mind ablaze. And nothing but exquisite and deeply strange language is left to emerge from the ashes."
-- NPR

"[Written] with typical swaggering genius and ribald wit."
-- Vanity Fair

"Extremely funny . . . reflective and poetic."
-- Village Voice

"Wonderful. . . . You & Me is by turns hilarious, depressing, gnomic, smutty, and just a far better Saturday night than anything to be had in Jacksonville and Baskersfield combined."
-- BookForum

Praise for The Interrogative Mood:

"A remarkable collection of philosophical inquiries, stimulating either/ors and good-faith measures the gap between where we are as a species and where we belong. The Interrogative Mood demands to be read deliberately, for it is courageous and entertaining and interested in the essential mysteries of self and society."
-- New York Times Book Review

"Powell has a rare ear for dialect and dialgogue, a dedication to new ways of making words jump and dance and catch fire."
-- New York Times Sunday Magazine

"Padgett Powell is one of the best writers in America, and one of the funniest, too."
-- Ian Frazier

"One of the few truly important American writers of our time."
-- Sam Lipsyte

"Nobody else talks to you like this."
-- Pete Dexter

"Hypnotic...Jazzy meditations that wrestle with life's important questions."
-- The New Yorker

"Powell has a unique and vigorous imagination, and his eccentricity, studied or spontaneous, is to be treasured and closely watched."
-- Time

"Can you picture the rabble-rousing literary offspring of Flannery O'Connor and Donald Barthelme? Does the prospect of reading a lawlessly lyrical, comic novel composed entirely in The Interrogative Mood pique your curiosity?"
-- Vanity Fair

"[A] peculiar and mind-popping experience. . . . Most novels take us away from ourselves, into the lives and minds of other people. The Interrogative Mood goes boldly in the other direction -- and really, wouldn't you like to talk about yourself?"
-- St. Petersburg Times