John Sayles is the director and screenwriter of some of the finest American movies of the last 30 years, including Return of the Secaucus 7, The Brother from Another Planet, Matewan, and Lone Star. Many of his films have a strong sociopolitical vision and sometimes achieve a Brechtian harmony of drama and protest. His novels are less famous but by no means mere sideline affairs. His latest, A Moment in the Sun, is a panoramic historical novel set at the turn of the 20th century. Through far-flung characters—an African-American infantryman, a Filipino rebel—Sayles delves into, for instance, the U.S.'s emergence as an imperial power, the Klondike Gold Rush, the nascent movie industry, and quite a lot more (there's room—the book is nearly a thousand pages). I'm not far enough in to pass judgment, but what I've read seems to justify the warm early reviews.
Tue., May 31, 7:30 p.m., 2011