Jane Smiley: Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel

Jane Smiley
In Conversation With Novelist Marianne Wiggins
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Episode Summary

Two great writers celebrate the novel—from the 1,000 year-old Tale of Genji to Zadie Smith’s recent bestseller White Teeth; from classics to little-known gems.

Participant(s) Bio

Jane Smiley was born in Los Angeles, California, moved to the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri as an infant, and lived there through grammar school and high school (The John Burroughs School). After getting her B.A. at Vassar College in 1971, she traveled in Europe for a year, working on an archeological dig and sightseeing, and then returned to Iowa for graduate school at the University of Iowa.

M.F.A. and Ph.D. in hand, she went to work in 1981 at Iowa State University in Ames, where she taught until 1996. She has two daughters, Phoebe Silag and Lucy Silag, and one son, AJ Mortensen. Jane is the author of ten works of fiction, including The Age of Grief, The Greenlanders, Ordinary Love and Good Will, A Thousand Acres, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, Moo, Horse Heaven and Good Faith, as well as many essays for such magazines as Vogue, The New Yorker, Practical Horseman, Harper's, the New York Times Magazine and the New York Times travel section, Victoria, Mirabella, Allure, The Nation and others. She has written on politics, farming, horse training, child-rearing, literature, impulse buying, getting dressed, Barbie, marriage, and many other topics. She is also the author of the nonfiction book A Year at the Races and from Penguin Lives Series, a biography of Charles Dickens. Her new book, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel, will be published by Knopf in Sept 2005.

Jane lives in Northern California, as do several of her horses.

Marianne Wiggins is the author of seven books of fiction, including John Dollar, Almost Heaven, and Eveless Eden, which was nominated for the Orange Prize. She has won the Whiting Writers' Award, an NEA grant, and the Janet Heidinger Kafka prize. She won the Commonwealth Club of California Book Award and was a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist for Evidence of Things Unseen.