Tell Me How This Ends Well is particularly prescient; the novel is a darkly humorous Dystopian story set in 2022 when America is overrun with anti-semitism. David Samuel Levinson was at McNally Jackson Books to discuss the novel with Daniel Torday, author of The Last Flight of Poxl West.
Torday observes that given the time it takes to write and launch a book, Levinson must have been a prophet to have so accurately predicted the current American crisis.
“I’m definitely to blame,” Levinson jokes. But he says he chose to write the novel because he had never really experienced anti-semitism himself, even growing up in Texas. His reasons for writing about the issue are all too common: “I was curious about anti-semitism.”
Levinson describes himself as prio-zionist. In recent years as Israel has increasingly expanded their territorial holdings and taken more violent military actions, Levinson found a divide between himself and some of his friends who were less willing to support Israel’s actions. He says he lost one friend of fifteen years after some comments on Facebook.
When he started writing the novel, he didn’t see it as an exercise targeting American audiences. “I was really writing this book for Europe,” he says explaining that he never thought the shit would be here. He wanted to engage in the dark times of Europe to speak to a new generation of Europeans. These are meant as cautionary tales. As it turns out, also these stories are also useful for a generation of Americans.
The book wasn’t intended to be written about the current climate. “Let’s hope I’m wrong.”
“I mainly set out to write a book to make people laugh,” he says. He includes himself in this group; he writes what he finds funny.
Ultimately Levinson describes the novel as a redemptive book.
Tell Me How This Ends Well is different from other things Levinson has written as it is a voice driven book rather than driven by plot. He says he gave his characters his neurosis.
The whole novel flowed out of him like one big rush of creative energy and he very much felt in the zone while writing the novel, and the whole thing was drafted in three months. Sometimes he worked twelve hours a day and writing it disrupted some of his usual routines. He thinks he was in a period of depression–his mother was dying while he wrote the book.