ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF BOOKS BY
What Now? (2008)
Based on her lauded commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College, this stirring essay offers hope and inspiration for anyone at a crossroads, whether graduating, changing careers or transitioning from one life stage to another. With wit and candor, Patchett tells her own story of attending college, graduating and struggling with the inevitable question, What now?
Since their mother’s death, Tip and Teddy Doyle have been raised by their loving, possessive and ambitious father. As the former mayor of Boston, Bernard Doyle wants to see his sons in politics, a dream the boys have never shared. But when an argument in a blinding New England snowstorm inadvertently causes an accident that involves a stranger and her child, all Bernard Doyle cares about is his ability to keep his children—all his children—safe.
Truth and Beauty: A Friendship (2004)
In Truth & Beauty, her frank and startlingly intimate first work of nonfiction, Patchett shines a fresh, revealing light on the world of women’s friendships and shows us what it means to stand together. Patchett and Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work was. In her critically acclaimed memoir, Autobiography of a Face, Grealy wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, the years of chemotherapy and radiation, and then the endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn’t Lucy’s life or Ann’s life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long, cold winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York City. Through love, fame, drugs and despair, this book shows us what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined.
Bel Canto (2001)
Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of a powerful Japanese businessman. Opera’s most revered soprano has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening—until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different countries and continents become compatriots.
Without the demands of the world to shape their days, life on the inside becomes more beautiful than anything they had ever known before. At once riveting and impassioned, the narrative becomes a moving exploration of how people communicate when music is the only common language. Friendship, compassion and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.
The Magician’s Assistant (1997)
When Parsifal, a handsome and charming magician, dies suddenly, his widow Sabine—who was also his faithful assistant for twenty years—learns that the family he claimed to have lost in a tragic accident is very much alive and well. Sabine is left to unravel his secrets, and the adventure she embarks upon, from sunny Los Angeles to the bitter windswept plains of Nebraska, will work its own magic on her.
John Nickel is a black ex-jazz musician who only wants to be a good father. But when his son is taken away from him, he’s left with nothing but the Memphis bar he manages. Then he hires Fay, a young white waitress, who has a volatile brother named Carl in tow. Nickel finds himself consumed with the idea of Taft—Fay and Carl’s dead father—and begins to reconstruct the life of a man he never met. But his sympathies for these lost souls soon take him down a twisting path into the lives of strangers.
The Patron Saint of Liars (1992)
St. Elizabeth’s is a home for unwed mothers. Life there in the 1960s is not unpleasant, and for most, it is temporary. Not so for Rose, a beautiful, mysterious woman who comes to the home pregnant but not unwed. She plans to give up her baby because she knows she cannot be the mother it needs. But St. Elizabeth’s is near a healing spring, and when Rose’s time draws near, she cannot go through with her plans, not all of them. And she cannot remain forever untouched by what she has left behind—and who she has become in the leaving.
Descriptions adapted from www.harpercollins.com
Ann Patchett was born in Los Angeles in 1963 and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 1990, she won a residential fellowship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she wrote her first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars. It was named a New York Times Notable Book for 1992. In 1993, she received a Bunting Fellowship from the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College. In 1994, Patchett’s second novel, Taft, was awarded the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for the best work of fiction by an American woman (awarded by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies and the Department of English at the University of Rochester). Her third novel, The Magician’s Assistant, was short-listed for England’s Orange Prize and earned her a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Patchett’s next novel, Bel Canto, won both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in 2002 and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. It was named the Book Sense Book of the Year. It sold over a million copies in the United States and has been translated into thirty languages. In 2004, Patchett published Truth & Beauty, a memoir of her friendship with the writer Lucy Grealy. It was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle and Entertainment Weekly. Truth & Beauty was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Alex Award from the American Library Association. She was the editor for Best American Short Stories 2006. Another novel, Run, was published in 2008, as was the long-form essay What Now?, based on Patchett’s commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College that year.
Patchett has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, Gourmet and Vogue. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Karl VanDevender.