Ms. Barry is a New York Times and international bestselling author The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places and will appear at The Big Book Club’s Halloween event to be held at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Center in Old Saybrook on Sunday, October 27th. (See event details below.) Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages and she was the first American author to have won the International Women’s Fiction Festival’s Baccante Award; Barry was also a past recipient of Ragdale Artists’ Colony Strnad Fellowship as well as the winner of New England Book Festival’s award for Best Fiction. Her reviews and articles on writing have appeared in The London Times and The Washington Post. Barry makes her home in Salem, Massachusetts, and is currently at work on her third novel.
Ms. Barry’s most recent work, The Map of True Places (HarperCollins Publishers, $14.99), was published in 2011 and is now available in paperback. Publishers Weekly noted, “Barry’s considerable latest delves into the long-lingering effects of a mother’s suicide … This is a lovingly told story with many well-drawn characters, who sooner or later reconsider the courses charted by personal decisions and circumstance.” Further, BookPage praised, “This is a novel brimming with both the messy and the lovely parts of life. A provocative examination of family, aging, and finding your true place in the world …”
From the publisher:
A respected Boston psychotherapist, Zee Finch has come a long way from a motherless childhood spent stealing boats. But the actions of a patient throw Zee into emotional chaos and take her back to places she thought she'd left behind.
What starts as a brief visit home to Salem begins a larger journey. Suddenly having to care for her ailing father after his longtime companion moves out, Zee must come to terms with a strained and awkward relationship that has always been marked by half-truths and haunted by the untimely death of her mother. Overwhelmed by her new role, Zee must destroy the existing map of her life and chart a new course—one that will guide her not only into her future but into her past as well.
Now, Brunonia Barry shares a few pages from the book of her life …
1) As a child, did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?
I was always openly reading something, usually trying to keep up with my next door neighbor, who was four years older and had rather sophisticated tastes. Her grandmother provided a summer reading list, and I tried to read all the books she was reading, though I think some of them were over my head. I remember reading Pearl S. Buck's “The Good Earth” in 4th grade and having all sorts of questions. We had a summerhouse in New Hampshire, which had a great multi-generational collection of mysteries and crime stories, and I read every one. In junior high, I read Lillian Hellman's “The Children's Hour” while eating an entire bag of jellybeans. For years, I wanted to eat jellybeans every time I read anything emotionally disturbing, a habit I had to work hard to break. When I was being punished, I was required to read Dickens, probably to teach me about children who were less fortunate. Until recently, when someone talked me into rereading “Bleak House,” I had no use for Mr. Dickens.
2) What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?
I read “Rebecca” under the covers on a dark and stormy night.
3) What are you reading currently & what is your initial impression?
Lately, since I’m in the middle of a new novel myself, I've mostly been reading books that I've been asked to blurb. The one I’m reading now is “Till the Well Runs Dry,” by Lauren Francis-Sharma. It’s a multi-generational story that begins in Trinidad. I'm only about 50 pages in, but it has easily hooked me, to the point where I'm neglecting my own writing, thank you very much. It will be out some time next spring.
4) What one book do you always recommend when asked?
Marilynne Robinson's “Housekeeping.”
5) Which of your own books would you suggest to readers & why?
I usually suggest “The Lace Reader” first, since that is the best known. It also introduces characters that will recur in other novels, though that doesn’t really matter much as each story stands alone.
6) Is there a book or author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read and liked?
David Foster Wallace's “Infinite Jest” is one of my all time favorites.
7) Who is the one author that would, or did, make you weak in the knees upon meeting?
It would have to be Alice Munro. I have quotes from “Lives of Girls and Women” pinned up all over my office. How wonderful to see her win the Nobel Prize! I’ve never met her, but I’m hoping.
8) Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?
I’m not sure the “I’ve made it” moment has happened yet. I’m a bit superstitious about it, I think. There was a flurry of excitement when reviews for “The Lace Reader” came in, and more when it became a New York Times best seller. The biggest thrill so far was the International Women’s Fiction Festival in Italy. At the awards ceremony, an actress read a chapter of “The Lace Reader” in Italian, which is such a beautiful language. That was one of those moments.
9) What is your greatest literary ambition?
Really, just to keep writing. I know it sounds simple, but it is such a gift to be able to make a living doing what you love.
10) Fill in the blank: Hartford Books Examiner is _____.
… both vibrant and essential.
With thanks to Brunonia Barry for her generosity of time and thought.
Ms. Barry will appear at The Big Book Club’s Halloween event, to be held at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Center on Sunday, October 27th. Other featured authors will include Roberta Isleib (aka Lucy Burdette), Suzanne Palmieri (aka Suzanne Hayes), and B.A. Shapiro as well as psychic medium Angelina Diana. Tickets are $55 and include a boxed lunch and afternoon dessert by Bliss Gourmet; there will also be a full cash bar with themed cocktails. R.J. Julia will be on site to sell books, and the authors will be available for signing. Doors open at 10:00 a.m. Registration can be completed online—seating is limited, so don’t delay! More information: http://www.thebigbookclub.org/the-katharine-hepburn-cultural-center-october-27/
Event location: 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook, CT