Mayor's Book Club

An Interview with Austin's Library Director, Brenda Branch

An Interview with Austin's Library Director, Brenda Branch

No one is more excited than the staff at The Austin Review about the new central library being built in downtown Austin. It will serve as a centerpiece for arts and culture and propel us further along the path of becoming a world-class literary city. To learn more about the library, and other exciting plans, we decided to chat with Library Director Brenda Branch. We thank her and her entire team for all the great work they are doing for our city.   

The Interview

The Austin Review: You are Austin's fourth Library Director. What does a Library Director do day-to-day?

Brenda Branch: Serving as Austin Public Library Director is the best job on earth. I get to combine my passion for literacy and my love of books to help library users connect with the materials and information they need to improve their lives.

An Interview with Celebrated Author Ben Fountain

Ben Fountain is the bestselling author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, a novel which was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, named a finalist for the National Book Award, and selected for Austin’s 2013 Mayor’s Book Club. Ben’s previous work, the short story collection Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, is similarly acclaimed. For these works, Ben has received a Pen/Hemingway award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction, and a Whiting Writers’ Award, among many honors.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Ben practiced law at a large firm in Dallas, where he lives today with his family. Ben’s unique and impressive ascent to the highest levels of American literature is documented in several interviews, such as those published here and here.  

In October 2013, at an event sponsored by the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation, Ben signed copies of, and read from, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk to a capacity crowd at Austin’s Faulk Library. It was at this event The Austin Review met Ben and learned firsthand of his generosity, enthusiasm, and support for literary journals.

While Ben was working briefly in Austin on his next project, he gave the interview presented below to The Austin Review. We are honored to have his name grace our publication.


The Austin Review:  If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?

Ben Fountain:  Overtly political, in the sense that it deals with individuals trying to carve out space for a measure of decency and autonomy. As part of that, they're trying to figure out why the world is the way it is, or at least their own little part of it.