Date: March 15 2005
From her first novel, Barn Blind (1980), to her most recent novel, Good Faith (2003), Jane Smiley has created a body of work of prodigious scope. In 1991, she won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for A Thousand Acres, a riveting family drama set in the American heartland during the 1980s, inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear. In Moo (1995), she presents a wry and intricately woven satire on modern academia. A master of historical fiction, Smiley canvassed fourteenth-century life in The Greenlanders (1988) and lent a feminist eye to 1850s Kansas in The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton (1998). She captured the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of Thoroughbred racing in Horse Heaven (2000), which novelist and critic Jane Houston described as “a narrative act of balancing so ambitious and so precisely executed that it becomes necessary to see Smiley as half acrobat, half writer: the novel is as athletic as the animals it describes.” Her new book, a work of personal nonfiction, is A Year at the Races: Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money, and Luck (2004).