Monday, March 01, 2004

Andrea Barrett

Fabulous article about Andrea Barrett, the author of The Voyage of the Narwahl and the 1996 National Book Award winner Ship Fever, in Sunday's The Boston Globe Magazine (Note: the link to the article may only work through midnight today). What's unique about Barrett's writing is her skilled melange of science, history, and fiction. Barrett's degree is in science, though she's been writing fiction for decades. She won a Guggenheim fellowship in 1997 and used the money to finance a summer trip to the northern shores of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, where she prepared to write The Voyage of the Narwahl.

A pivotal point in Barrett's career occurred in 1994 when her long-time editor left for another publishing house and did not take Barrett with her. As Barrett points out, none of her four novels had been big sellers. Her fourth novel, Forms of Water, sold only 2,000 copies. Her response to this setback? "I said, well, fine, if nobody wants to read my novels I might as well write that which I am most interested in, even if it seems bizarre or unappealing to other people." And so her fifth novel was the award-winning Ship Fever.

Later this afternoon I will be adding more information about Barrett and her most recent setback with the novel she's currently writing.


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