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Elizabeth Strout

Author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Olive Kitteridge

  • About Elizabeth Strout

    Elizabeth Strout won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for fiction with her short story collection, Olive Kitteridge, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Her most recent novel, My Name is Lucy Barton, debuted to critical acclaim.

    A Bates College graduate, Elizabeth Strout grew up in small towns in Maine and New Hampshire. When she was a child, her mother bought her notebooks and encouraged her to record the everyday things that happened to her, which she loved to do. This shaped her writing, but it was only later, when she moved to New York as a writer, that she recognized the impact upon her work of the New England settings of her childhood and the great human dramas that reside in the ordinary.

    Her first novel, Amy and Isabelle, won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and for the Orange Prize in England. Her second novel, Abide with Me, was a national bestseller and a Book Sense pick. Additionally, Strout’s novel The Burgess Boys was a New York Times Bestseller and named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker and O: The Oprah Magazine.

    Olive Kitteridge was adapted into an Emmy Award-winning HBO miniseries starring Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, and Bill Murray. It was also recently announced The Burgess Boys has been optioned by HBO for a miniseries.

    Elizabeth Strout is on the faculty of the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte, in North Carolina, and at literary series and universities across the country.

  • Speaking Topics

    Fiction: A Pack of Truths

    Playing Scales and Doing Push-Ups

    Literature and the Growth of Compassion

    You Are What You Read

  • Video

  • Praise for Elizabeth Strout

    Elizabeth Strout was so bright, natural and her thoughtful presentation on fiction was a perfect prelude for our Saturday seminar. The evaluations are outstanding! Bravo!

    Washington and Lee University

    Praise for My Name Is Lucy Barton

    In her lovely and heartbreaking new novel…Elizabeth Strout has produced a major work in minimalist form…In the character of Lucy, Strout has fashioned one of the great resilient modern heroines.

    Portland Press Herald

    “[The novel is] potent with distilled emotion. Without a hint of self-pity, Strout captures the ached of loneliness we all feel sometimes, ‘with longings so large you can’t even weep.


    Spectacular… My Name is Lucy Barton is smart and cagey in every way. It is both a book of withholdings and a book of great openness and wisdom… [Elizabeth Strout] is in supreme and magnificent command of this novel at all times.

    Lily King, Washington Post

    Writing of this quality comes from a commitment to listening, from a perfect attunement to the human condition, from an attention to reality so exact that it goes beyond a skill and becomes a virtue.

    Hilary Mantel

    [Strout’s] tender and moving novel should be read slowly, to savor the depths beneath what at first seems a simple story of a mother-daughter reconciliation…Her narrative voice is restrained yet expressive. This masterly novel’s message, made clear in the moving denouement, is that sometimes in order to express love, one has to forgive

    Publishers Weekly

    In a compact novel brimming with insight and emotion, Strout relays great tenderness and sadness the way family relationships can both make and break us.

    Booklist (starred review)

    Fiction with the condensed power of poetry: Strout deepens her mastery with each new work, and her psychological acuity has never required improvement.

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

    Praise for Olive Kitteridge

    "A unified cycle of finely observed tales focusing on characters inhabiting a single town...[a] brilliant evocation of emotion...a gratifying stunner."

    The Boston Globe

    Perceptive, deeply empathetic, and even more deeply flawed, Olive is the axis around which these 13 complex, relentlessly human narratives spin themselves in Elizabeth Strout's unforgettable novel in stories, Olive Kitteridge...This is the essence of Olive, contradictory, locked down tight, but capable of flights of emotion all the more beautiful because of their infrequency.

    O: The Oprah Magazine

    Praise for The Burgess Boys

    Wincingly funny, moving, wise.

    Good Housekeeping

    [Strout’s] extraordinary narrative gifts are evident again…the distance between Bob and Jim — painfully wide at times, lovingly close as well and turning on ‘a terrible secret’ from childhood — gives the novel a level of intrigue and human depth with lasting impact. Strout's writing style is all her own, at times almost effortlessly fluid, with superbly rendered dialogue, sudden and unexpected bolts of humor and, just as a scene seems to be low-key, carried away by startling riffs of gripping emotion…. Strout knows and vividly evokes the territory of Maine and New York City, her characters, their inner lives and fears and — beyond the saga of a family in crisis — the healing power of mercy.

    Associated Press

    As in her Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, Strout deftly exposes the tensions that fester among families. But she also takes a broader view, probing cultural divides…Illustrating the power of roots, Strout assures us we can go home again—though we may not want to.

    O: The Oprah Magazine

    …No one should be surprised by the poignancy and emotional vigor of Elizabeth Strout’s new novel…the broad social and political range of The Burgess Boys shows just how impressively this extraordinary writer continues to develop.

    Washington Post
  • Books by Elizabeth Strout

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