John Thorndike grew up in New England, graduated from Harvard, took an MA from Columbia, then lit out for Latin America. He spent two years in the Peace Corps in El Salvador and two, with his wife and child, on a backcountry farm in Chile. Eventually he settled with his son in Athens, Ohio, where for ten years his day job was farming. Then it was construction. His first two books were novels, followed by a memoir, Another Way Home, about his wife’s schizophrenia and his life as a single parent (“The directness, the honesty, the terrible plain chant of the narrative stunned me.”—Doris Grumbach.) A second memoir, The Last of His Mind, describes his father’s year-long descent into Alzheimer’s, and was a Washington Post Best Book of 2009. The novel A Hundred Fires in Cuba follows an affair between a young American photographer and one of the heroes of the Cuban Revolution, Camilo Cienfuegos. The World Against Her Skin, Thorndike’s latest book, is a half-fictional evocation of his mother’s life.