Vendela Vida, Now on Her Third Novel, Still Believes in Power of Print


Ten years ago, Vendela Vida was someone to watch. Today, she’s someone to emulate. Since the award-winning author of four books claims she never reads press about herself, I’m free to fawn like a fan club president: Intelligent, lovely and talented, Vida, a linchpin of the San Francisco literary scene, is the complete package.

“You know that old saying—it’s fun to have written?” says 38-year-old Vida, sipping a glass of iced tea in a Valencia Street cafe. “That’s true. But it’s not always fun to write.” Nevertheless, she persists: Her third novel, The Lovers (Ecco), debuts this month. It’s set in Turkey, a country Vida visited three times while writing (she did the same thing with Lapland when she was writing Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name). On her last visit to Turkey, she was seven months pregnant with her second child, who was due the same week as the manuscript. Her son arrived first, so she had to finish the book during the first few months of his life. “So much for maternity leave,” she says.

Afterward, she declared that she would never write again. “My friends reminded me that I say that every time,” she says, laughing. “But when you can’t spend one more minute looking at it, when you’re totally exhausted by a project, that’s how you know you’ve given it your all.”

Vida is also co-founder and co-editor of The Believer, a monthly journal published by McSweeney’s, an outfit started by her husband, Dave Eggers. The journal is a collection of eclectic stories, book reviews and long-format interviews. “There was no one telling us that we couldn’t,” she says of starting the journal, “and I guess I didn’t think I should give my good ideas to someone else.”

The books and journals that are Vida’s bread and butter run directly contrary to the Chicken Little assessment that the sky over the publishing world is falling, something the writer admits she doesn’t worry about. “I don’t feel that. I don’t hear that from our readers. There’s all this talk about print disappearing, but what I see is people rallying around well-made books and magazines.” She pauses, considering. “I believe there’s a future in that.”

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