Read Sarah Shun-lien Bynum’s interview with Ali Liebegott in The Believer here.
“I’ve had a lot of people giving me the right pushes and nudges, and I had a friend who nudged me to take a fiction workshop with her that was offered at night at Columbia through their school for General Studies. She urged me to do this with her and Michael Cunningham was the person teaching the class . . . This was while he was working on The Hours. This now sounds apocryphal but I remember him coming into class and saying, “I’m working on this strange book, it’s like this triptych about Virginia Woolf and I don’t know if it’s just crazy to be doing this.” So he was a wonderful teacher. A really generous teacher. He was the one who said, “You should really think about applying for graduate school.” It had always been something that had been percolating as an escape hatch, like how do I leave middle school teaching gracefully? And graduate school seemed like the best way to do that. But I don’t think I would’ve done it as soon if Michael hadn’t been really supportive of it.