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Elizabeth Strout

Author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Olive Kitteridge

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  • 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 2016 novel My Name is Lucy Barton, became a #1 New York Times bestseller and was longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize.

    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.

    Strout’s most recent book, Anything is Possible, recalls the structure and complexity of Olive Kitteridge while returning to the unforgettable cast of characters in My Name is Lucy Barton. The Washington Post wrote, “These stories return Strout to the core of what she does more magnanimously than anyone else, which is to render quiet portraits of the indignities and disappointments of normal life, and the moments of grace and kindness we are gifted in response… Strout hits the target yet again.”

    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

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    We had an absolutely wonderful day with Elizabeth Strout. What a joy she is! She was so kind, authentic, accessible, and wise. She was so generous in her sharing of her thoughts, her craft, and her stories. The students and teachers at the High School were just over the moon. She has an uncanny way of connecting with people in deep significant ways in a very short period of time. Everyone—students, teachers, funders, board members, staff, and audience members in the signing line—all walked away feeling like they ‘knew her’ and she them.

    Her talk was brilliant. She has an innate intuition—maybe the keenest I have ever seen—which she put into high gear. Her talk was truly an interactive conversation with the audience. They were with her every step of the way and she with them. She utilized her deadpan humor to convey a message that could be considered dark and difficult to hear, respectfully bringing the audience into her thought process. They loved her!

    And to top it all off—it was fun! I am so glad that we were able to work with you to bring Elizabeth Strout (her first time in Pittsburgh!) to our audience.

    Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures
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    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 Anything Is Possible

    These stories return Strout to the core of what she does more magnanimously than anyone else, which is to render quiet portraits of the indignities and disappointments of normal life, and the moments of grace and kindness we are gifted in response… Strout hits the target yet again.

    The Washington Post

    Strout really can write you into a world until you feel you are there with her… This is her genius… She is also simply superb at writing about relationships.

    The Times (UK)

    In this wise and accomplished book, pain and healing exist in perpetual dependence, like feuding siblings.

    The Wall Street Journal

    It’s hard to believe that a year after the astonishing My Name Is Lucy Barton Elizabeth Strout could bring us another book that is by every measure its equal, but what Strout proves to us again and again is that where she’s concerned, anything is possible. This book, this writer, are magnificent.

    Ann Patchett

    If you miss the charmingly eccentric and completely relatable characters from Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout’s best-selling My Name is Lucy Barton, you’ll be happily reunited with them in Strout’s smart and soulful Anything is Possible.

    Elle

    In Elizabeth Strout’s Anything is Possible, her stunning follow-up to My Name is Lucy Barton, a famous author returns to the Midwestern hometown of her childhood, touching off a daisy-chain of stories narrated by those who knew her—memories of trauma and goodwill, resentments small and large, and the ever-widening gulf between haves and have-nots. Strout, always good, just keeps getting better.

    Vogue

    Praise for My Name Is Lucy Barton

    There is not a scintilla of sentimentality in this exquisite novel. Instead, in its careful words and vibrating silences, My Name is Lucy Barton offers us a rare wealth of emotion, from darkest suffering to—‘I was so happy. Oh, I was happy’—simple joy.

    Claire Messud, New York Times Book Review

    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.

    Time

    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

    [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

    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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