Is insomnia a badge of honor? Or proof that you are paying attention?

Living Writers 2022 - Weather Book Cover

Lizzie works in the library of the university where she was once a promising grad student. Her side hustle is answering letters that come in to Hell and High Water, a podcast hosted by her charismatic but flaky former mentor. At first it suits her, this chance to practice her other vocation as an unofficial shrink — but soon Lizzie finds herself struggling to strike the obligatory note of hope in her responses. The reassuring rhythms of her life as a wife, mother, and caretaker begin to falter as her obsession with disaster psychology and people preparing for the end of the world grows.

Composed as a novel in fragments, Weather both reflects and illuminates the experience of going about one’s ordinary life in the face of catastrophe. Offill’s main character is full of rueful self-awareness that nevertheless fails to protect her from seismic changes going on around her. Sentence by sentence, the novel is full of dazzling lines and blinding insights. It’s funny, wise, poetic, and memorable.

Living Writers 2022 - Weather Author, Jenny Offill

Weather is Jenny Offill’s third novel. Her first, Last Things, was a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Book Award. Her second, Dept. of Speculation, made the New York Times top-10 list. Currently, she is a Visiting Writer in Residence at Bard College.

“I went from thinking, What can be done?, as if there was one answer, to thinking, You need to get up every morning and do something,” says Jenny Offill in her three-question Living Writers interview.

Meet Jenny Offill at Colgate on Nov. 17

We’re sorry that you missed Jenny Offill's visit. If you’d like to see an archived copy of her presentation, please join the Living Writers mailing list.

Tell Us What You Think

We're sorry you missed our Nov. 14 faculty roundtable and discussion of Weather. Guests included Jane Pinchin, Thomas A. Bartlett Chair and professor of English, emerita, and CJ Hauser, associate professor of English. You can listen to a recording of the first 20 minutes below.

Follow the discussion on Twitter @ColgateLW using the hashtags #ColgateLivingWriters and #Weather

Go Beyond the Book

  • “Offill’s writing is shrewd on the question of whether intense psychic suffering heightens your awareness of the pain of others, or makes you blind to it,” writes Leslie Jamison in this New York Times review of Weather.
  • “How do we write a story with an antagonist when we are the antagonist?” asks Parul Sehgal in this New York Times Magazine feature about Jenny Offill.
  • In her Paris Review interview, Jenny Offill says, “Caring is all we have, I think. Cynicism is just a soft form of denial.”
  • “Offill pulls us in close in order to make us worry about things outside us; mirrors the self to show us what we are selfishly ignoring,” writes Kate Clanchy in the Guardian review of Weather.

My #1 fear is the acceleration of days. No such thing supposedly, but I swear I can feel it.


Living Writers is organized by the Department of English at Colgate University with generous support from the Olive B. O’Connor Fund as well as the President and Provost/Dean of the Faculty. 



Join the conversation on Twitter