Ann Patchett Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to her novels, Ann Patchett has published numerous short stories in a variety of magazines, beginning with The Paris Review and including Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, Elle, GQ, Gourmet, Vogue, and The Washington Post Magazine. She served as editor of the anthology The Best American Short Stories 2006 (2006). Her memoir Truth and Beauty: A Friendship (2004) is almost a prose poem celebrating her longtime friendship with Lucy Grealy, to whom the book is dedicated. What Now? (2008), an expanded version of the commencement address Patchett gave at Sarah Lawrence College in 2006, is dedicated to Allan Gurganus and Alice Stone Ilchman, who were important figures in her education there.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Recognized as an outstanding contemporary novelist, Ann Patchett has been awarded a variety of fellowships, including a residential fellowship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts (1990), a Bunting Fellowship from the Mary Ingrahm Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College (1993), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1997).

Because of Patchett’s vivid imagery and the lyrical quality of her prose, her novels have been described as poetic and have earned numerous individual honors: The Patron Saint of Liars was a New York Times Notable Book in 1992; Taft received the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for the best work of fiction in 1994; The Magician’s Assistant was short-listed for England’s Orange Prize (an award given to novels by female writers); and Bel Canto won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in 2002, and, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, it was also named the Book Sense Book of the Year. Bel Canto has sold more than one million copies in the United States and has been translated into thirty languages.

Patchett’s memoir Truth and Beauty was named one of the best books of 2004 by the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Entertainment Weekly. A finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Truth and Beauty won the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the American Library Association’s Alex Award.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Muchnik, Laurie. “Talking with Ann Patchett: A Lyric Voice.” New York Newsday, July 8, 2001, B11. Muchnik interviews Patchett about her book tour for Bel Canto and the research she did for the novel. Patchett comments on her difficulty in writing villains and on categorizations of her work as magical or fantastical.

Patchett, Ann. “Ann Patchett: The Novelist as Magician.” Interview by Elizabeth Bernstein. Publishers Weekly, October 13, 1997, 52-53. Bernstein’s interview with Patchett covers her life and her first three novels with a focus on The Magician’s Assistant.

Patchett, Ann. “The Sacrament of Divorce.” In Women on Divorce: A Bedside Companion, edited by Penny Kaganoff and Susan Spano. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1995. Patchett discusses her feelings about the end of her marriage. Her recovery from her divorce is complicated by her Catholicism.

Polk, James. “Captive Audience.” The New York Times, June 10, 2001, sec. 7, p. 37. Polk asserts that Bel Canto shows Patchett doing what she does best—subtly revealing how people make connections with others despite outside forces that attempt to divide them.