Alice McDermott

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(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Although she had written some short stories while she was working in New York after graduating from college, Alice McDermott did not attempt to publish them. However, when she was a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire, her teacher Mark Smith, who was himself a writer, was so impressed by her stories that he persuaded her to begin submitting them to magazines. The first publication to accept one of McDermott’s stories was Ms. magazine. Before long, her short fiction had also appeared in Redbook, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Alice McDermott is lauded by critics both for her lyrical prose and for her insight into the inner lives of the Irish Catholic families about whom she writes. Her second book, That Night, won the 1987 Whiting Writers Award and was nominated both for a National Book Award in 1987 and for a PEN/Faulkner Award in 1998. She received a National Book Award in 1998 and an American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, in 1999, both for Charming Billy. In 2007, McDermott was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for After This. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Corrington Award for Literary Excellence.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Atwood, Margaret. “Castle of the Imagination.” The New York Review of Books, January 16, 2003. An extensive review of Child of My Heart.

Baumann, Paul. “Imperishable Identities.” Commonweal, May 22, 1992. A perceptive analysis of At Weddings and Wakes.

Current Biography 53 (September, 1992). Biographical information and a summary of criticism is provided.

Leavitt, David. “Fathers, Daughters and Hoodlums.” The New York Times Book Review, April 19, 1987. Discussion of That Night.

McDermott, Alice. “Alice McDermott.” Interview by Wendy Smith. Publishers Weekly, March 30, 1992. A helpful interview.

Miner, Valerie. “Mixed Memories.” Women’s Review of Books 15, nos. 10/11 (1998). A review of Charming Billy.

Roberts, Roxanne. “The Accidental Novelist: Bethesda’s Alice McDermott and Her Latest Reluctant Success.” The Washington Post, April 21, 1992. Deals with issues that are central in the fiction.