Award-winning author shares ‘Binocular Vision’

| February 6, 2013

Edith Pearlman had published more than 250 works of fiction and nonfiction, including short stories, essays and travel writing.

Acclaimed short story writer Edith Pearlman will read from her latest book, “Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories,” at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, in Pannell Gallery at Sweet Briar College. The event is free and open to the public.

Spanning four decades of writing, the stories in this collection take readers around the world and back in time, from Jerusalem to Central America, from Tsarist Russia to London during the Blitz, from central Europe to Manhattan and from the Maine coast to a fictional suburb of Boston. While each story’s backdrop is different, all of them have one thing in common: the author’s interest in exploring complex characters and the relationships between them.

“I would like my audience to take away a feeling of having met new and interesting people who form some kind of connection and resolve some kind of problem,” Pearlman said. “I don’t try to send a message in my stories, though I do work on clarifying my own insight into my characters; and how to live under trying circumstances is a concern of mine.”

“Binocular Vision” received the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction and was named a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and The Story Prize. All well-deserved, says John Gregory Brown, Julia Jackson Nichols Professor of English and director of creative writing at Sweet Briar.

“Her stories are concise and incisive, but also surprising and graceful and powerful,” he said. “We’re very fortunate that she will be visiting Sweet Briar.”

While Pearlman’s following has been relatively small outside of literary circles, “Binocular Vision” put her on the map. Since she published it two years ago, more people recognize her on the street, she says, and she’s busier than ever traveling the country for readings and talks.

But some things never change.

“I am the same woman, always struggling with the story at hand.”

Pearlman is the recipient of the 2011 PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in the art of short fiction and the 2011 Wallant Award. She has published more than 250 works of fiction and nonfiction in national magazines and anthologies, including Best American Short Stories, The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories and The Pushcart Prize. Her short essays have also appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Smithsonian Magazine, Preservation, Yankee Magazine and Ascent. Her travel writing — about the Cotswolds, Budapest, Jerusalem, Paris and Tokyo — has been published in the New York Times and elsewhere.

Pearlman was born and raised in Providence, R.I., but now lives in Brookline, Mass. To learn more, visit edithpearlman.com. To watch a recent interview with Pearlman, visit creativewriting.blog.sbc.edu. To read her recent essay in The Boston Globe, click here.

Janika Carey

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Category: Academics, Creative Writing, English