Michelle Huneven: ‘Search’

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Los Angeles-based author Michelle Huneven’s new novel is ‘Search’. Her previous novels have been New York Times Notable Books, and finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She occasionally writes about food and teaches creative writing at University of California, Los Angeles. Photo by Courtney Gregg.

Los Angeles-based author Michelle Huneven joins Evan Kleiman to discuss her latest book, “Search.” In this engaging and funny literary fiction novel, main character Dana Potowski writes a memoir that describes the steps of her Unitarian Universalist Church congregation’s year-long search for its new minister and the challenges they encounter.

Excerpt from Search - A Novel by Michelle Huneven

“The search for a new minister,” Arne began in his slow, raspy quaver, “is a sacred task to be undertaken with reverence and humility. You are as pilgrims embarking on a long journey to find your new leader. As with most spiritual undertakings, there will be hills to climb, dark valleys to cross, with doubts, missteps, and bugaboos along the way. I was on the search committee for Tom Fox, and I can tell you, surprises hide around every corner. You’ll encounter jolts, joys, disappointments, and many wondrous moments. A holy search is the experience of a lifetime. You’ll come to know your companions well, and become marvelously close.” 

We gave one another nervous glances, except for Sam, the obligatory Rourke, who was studying the agenda and pulling a long white eyebrow to an impossible-seeming length then letting it spring back. Was closeness possible with a man who didn’t recognize a person he’d eaten lunch with every month for years?

“Forty-seven people applied to be on this committee,” said Arne. “Together, you represent as many aspects of church life as we could assemble in one group.” Arne’s voice rose with emotion. “Together, you form a church in miniature and, as such, you’ll choose the next minister for us all. Also, every one of you wrote the same thing in your letters. Before we leave tonight, let’s see if you can figure out what it was.” 

“Time to burn?” said Belinda.

“Out of our minds?” said Adrian. 

Excerpted from Search - A Novel © 2022 Michelle Huneven. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Penguin Press. All rights reserved.



Evan Kleiman


Anna Buss