Zen for Ten 31: Stranger, Father, Beloved

Today’s guest on the Storytelling and Sound series is Taylor Larsen. Taylor’s debut novel Stranger, Father, Beloved was released July 2016 by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. It was chosen as one of Huffington Post‘s Hottest Reads of the Summer for 2017, one of the New York Post‘s Summer Must Reads, and one of Ploughshares‘s Best Books of the Summer.

Taylor and I met at the Kenyon Review Writers Workshops in the summer of 2017, and collaborated on a combination performance and reading, in which we paired sections of her novel with short piano pieces I performed. That collaboration inspired the Storytelling and Sound blog, and I’m delighted to feature Taylor and her luminous and beautiful novel today.

Stranger, Father, Beloved has elements in common with my own To Love A Stranger: both are stories about personal identity, the struggle for self-acceptance, and the ways in which our secrets affect the people we love most. The common themes in our work made it doubly fun for me to collaborate with Taylor. I paired an excerpt from the first chapter of her book with three short pieces by Frederic Chopin: Preludes in E minor, B minor, and A Major, respectively. The lyrical, atmospheric writing made Chopin a clear choice for musical accompaniment. I love this particular passage from Taylor’s novel as it speaks so directly and honestly to the effects of chronic anxiety, and how the outdoors can provide healing and relief.

Enjoy the video, and learn more below about Taylor and her brilliant debut novel. As always, thank you for visiting the blog!

About Stranger, Father, Beloved

When Michael James sees his wife Nancy chatting with a stranger at a party, his intuition tells him that he’s watching her with the man she should have married. He quickly begins a campaign to replace himself within his own family with this other man—who, to him, is worthier, better, and kinder—all so his faithful wife Nancy, his beautiful teenage daughter Ryan, and his young son Max can live the lives they deserve.

While Michael pursues this man’s friendship, Ryan goes through a period of sexual awakening and rebellion and distances herself from her family, and the quiet, weak Nancy becomes increasingly befuddled and frustrated by the behaviors of her husband and daughter. As tension and uncertainty build in their home, the James family slowly unravels.

About Taylor: 

Taylor Larsen Head shot 3

Taylor Larsen is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program in fiction writing. Taylor has taught fiction writing at Columbia University (as part of CAT) as well as literature courses for Pace University. She currently teaches and does manuscript consulting for The Sackett Street Writers Workshop and Catapult. Taylor is an author at Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster for her novel, Stranger, Father, Beloved, which released in July of 2016. She is a co-editor for the literary website, The Negatives.  Her stories have appeared in Joyland and Windmill: The Hofstra Journal of Literature & Art. Her essays have appeared in The Huffington PostBustleLiterary HubThe Negatives, and Women Writers, Women’s Books. Originally from Alexandria, Virginia, Taylor currently resides with her family outside of NYC.

Connect with Taylor online:



Writers! Would you like to contribute your work for the Storytelling and Sound series? (You provide the words, I provide the live reading and the music.) Email me at kris@krisfaatz.com for info.

Readers! Like what you see here? Be sure to subscribe and never miss a post.

Storytelling and Sound fans: if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to check out music-inspired To Love A Stranger!


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