Jane Hamilton Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Jane Hamilton is chiefly a novelist, but she honed her skills writing short fiction. Harper’s magazine published two of her stories, “Aunt Marji’s Happy Ending” and “My Own Earth.” Her award-winning The Book of Ruth had its origins in a ten-page short story to which the author returned and expanded into a novel.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Jane Hamilton achieved early success with the publication of her first novel. In 1989, The Book of Ruth received the Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award, the Banta Award, and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for First Fiction. The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World were selected for Oprah’s Book Club, helping them achieve best-seller status worldwide. Both novels were adapted for film, A Map of the World for the cinema in 1999 and The Book of Ruth for television in 2004. In 1998, The Short History of a Prince received the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize and was short-listed for the Orange Prize. Disobedience was named to the School Library Journal’s list of the best adult books for high school students in 1991.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Brown, Rosellen. Women’s Review of Books. Vol. 15 (June, 1998): p. 62-63. Mostly a review of The Short History of a Prince but also insightful commentary on the body of Hamilton’s work.

Habich, John. “Jane Hamilton Keeps Mapping World Through Fiction, from Wisconsin Orchard.” (Minneapolis) Star Tribune, January 20, 2002. A folksy, biographical piece on Hamilton and her midwestern environs.

Rotenberk, Lori. “Mapping Jane Hamilton’s World.” Book, November, 2000, 40. Good biographical details; includes Hamilton’s favorite apple crisp recipe.

Steinberg, Sybil. “Jane Hamilton: A Kinship with Society’s Outcasts.” Publishers Weekly 245 (February 2, 1998): 68-69. Discussion of Hamilton’s closeness to her protagonists.

Taylor, Pegi. Writer 114, no. 1 (January, 2001): 26-31. An excellent interview with Hamilton that provides an overview of what goes into the writing process that brims with her personality.