It has long been a teenager’s duty to make life hard for his or her parents, but for Sam and Claire, the couple in Ben Marcus’s new novel The Flame Alphabet, their teenage daughter Esther’s speech is actually physically toxic to them. As Marcus, the imaginative author of three books including Notable American Women, recently told The New Yorker: “In The Flame Alphabet, it’s the people we love the most who make us sick. I’m attracted to how fraught the parent-child relationship is, swerving so easily between love and hostility, with almost no plausible way to end, unless someone dies.” Tonight, he’ll discuss the book with Granta editor John Freeman.

Mon., Jan. 23, 7 p.m., 2012