Made Local

Idra Novey

In conversation with novelist Angie Cruz, author of How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water

Take What You Need is a propulsive, profound, and electric portrait of small-town America’s decline. Jean, the main character, is complex, cantankerous and vulnerable; a character who will remain with you for weeks after you read the book. This is Novey’s most powerful novel yet.”

Cathy Park Hong, author of Minor Feelings

In her most powerful book yet, award-winning writer Idra Novey has conjured a novel of “astonishing and singular” honesty (Rumaan Alam) with two determined, unforgettable female voices.

Set in Western Pennsylvania near Johnstown where Idra Novey grew up and where her family has lived for more than a hundred years, Take What You Need traces the parallel lives of Jean, and her beloved but estranged stepdaughter, Leah, who’s sought a clean break from her rural childhood. With Jean’s death, Leah returns to sort through what’s been left behind. What she discovers is staggering. Jean has filled the house with giant sculptures she’s welded from scraps of the area’s industrial history. And there is a young man living in the house who’s played an unknown role in Jean’s last years and in her art.

Passionate and resonant, Take What You Need explores the continuing mystery of the people we love most, the power we can draw from creative pursuits, and what can be built from the discards of others—art, unexpected friendship, a new contentment of self.

Idra Novey is the award-winning author of the novels Ways to Disappear and Those Who Knew. Her work has been translated into a dozen languages and she’s written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. She teaches at Princeton University and in the MFA Program at New York University.


Take What You Need is available for pre-order from White Whale Bookstore.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2023 at 6 p.m.


Free, with registration
Links to the livestream will be emailed to all registered for this event on March 21st. The captioned video will remain available to view.
Registration may also be completed by email at or by phone at 412.622.8866.


Carnegie Library Lecture Hall
4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, 15213


Upcoming Lectures

Hernan Diaz


Ed Yong

APR 29

Jesmyn Ward

MAY 13

Anna Monardo

MAY 23