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Jennifer Egan talks to John Mitchinson

The Candy House

Hay Festival 2022 , 

It’s 2010. Staggeringly successful and brilliant tech entrepreneur Bix Bouton is desperate for a new idea. He’s forty, with four kids, and restless when he stumbles into a conversation with mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or ‘externalising’ memory. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, Own Your Unconscious – that allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others – has seduced multitudes. But not everyone.

Egan spins out the consequences of Own Your Unconscious through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. Intellectually dazzling and extraordinarily moving, The Candy House is a bold imagining of a world that is moments away. Egan explores the darker aspects of our technology-driven, image-saturated culture and the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for real connection, love, family, privacy and redemption.

Jennifer Egan talks to John Mitchinson