Jane Ciabattari

Jane Ciabattari is the author of the short-story collection Stealing The Fire. Her reviews, interviews and cultural reporting have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Daily Beast, the Paris Review, the Boston Globe, The Guardian, Bookforum, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Columbia Journalism Review, among others. She is a former president of the National Book Critics Circle.

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Book Reviews
6:03 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Harrowing Memories, Intersecting Lives In 'Thirty Girls'

Susan Minot's previous books include Rapture and Folly.
Knopf/Random House

The central drama in Susan Minot's fourth novel comes from a real-life episode in October 1996, when 139 girls at St. Mary's College in Aboke, Uganda, were abducted by guerillas from the militant Lord's Resistance Army. The school's Italian headmistress followed the rebels into the bush and retrieved all but 30 of the girls — hence the title.

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Book Reviews
6:02 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Debut Novel Offers Surprisingly Dark 'Vision' Of Shaker Life

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 8:29 am

In August 1837, a group of girls aged ten through fourteen in a one-room Shaker schoolhouse received "signs from the world beyond." One by one they began singing, jerking, chanting, and reciting Latin. This miraculous phenomenon went on for hours. Elder Sister Agnes, the schoolteacher, witnessed it all. Thenceforth these and other Visionists — the name given to those deemed to be "chosen instruments" of Mother Ann, the Shakers' founder — "were allowed to make things that were not simply functional but beautiful, for they had created them under divine inspiration."

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Book Reviews
6:08 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Opening The Literary Liquor Cabinet In 'Echo Spring'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 11:09 am

Remember Brick's frequent trips to "Echo Spring" in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? Echo Spring, Olivia Laing reminds us in her illuminating new book, is a nickname for the liquor cabinet, drawn from the brand of bourbon it contains. Symbolically, she adds, it refers to something quite different: "perhaps to the attainment of silence, or to the obliteration of troubled thoughts that comes, temporarily at least, with a sufficiency of booze."

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Book Reviews
6:03 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Amy Tan's Latest: Mothers, Daughters And The Oldest Profession

Originally published on Sat November 9, 2013 5:10 pm

Family secrets, life-changing betrayals and the paradox of wondering about the old country while belonging to the new are at the heart of Amy Tan's work. She enthralled readers of her phenomenally successful first novel, The Joy Luck Club (1989), with the interlocking stories of four Chinese-born mothers and their four California-born daughters. Tan followed up with equally enduring portraits of fierce immigrant mothers who withheld secrets of the past while pushing their daughters forward in The Kitchen God's Wife (1991), and The Bonesetter's Daughter (2001).

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Book Reviews
6:03 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Raymond Carver And His Editor Re-Imagined In 'Scissors'

Stephane Michaka is a French writer.
Elisa Pone Random House

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 7:04 pm

The legendary minimalist short story writer Raymond Carver distilled the last decade of his life in his poem "Gravy." "Gravy, these past ten years," he writes. "Alive, sober, working, loving, and being loved by a good woman."

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