Alice McDermott has a relatively young but already illustrious career: In the space of four slim novels, she has earned two Pulitzer nominations and a National Book Award win for 1998's Charming Billy. She mostly has drawn on her background growing up Irish-American on Long Island to create compelling family portraits, but she is also an author worth watching for the turns she'll take in the future.
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Date of Birth:
June 27, 1953
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, New York
B.A., State University of New York-Oswego, 1975; M.A., University of New Hampshire, 1978
National Book Award for Charming Billy, 1998
|The Best Book to Read First|
Charming Billy, about the attempt to ffigure out the decline and loss of a beloved but alcoholic family member, won the 1998 National Book Award. Thomas Mallon, chairman of the judging panel, describes the book as having "a voice like nothing we could recall.... It found us. It was what we kept hearing."
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|The Irish-American Connection|
|When asked in a 1998 television interview whether she set out to write about the Irish-American experience, McDermott replied, "No, I wouldn't say that I did. I set out to write about the things we believe in, and the way we feel, and things like hope and faith. Being Irish-American, myself, Irish-American material is readily at hand to me. I know Irish-American people. I know what their homes look like. I know what they have for dinner. I know how they turn a phrase.
"And so since it was readily available, it saves me lots of research time, and I can spend the time instead trying to develop the things that I think are important in fiction, and that is the inner life of the characters."
|Photo by Jerry Bauer||