Alice McDermott in conversation with Siobhan Campbell
In one beautifully observed, quietly absorbing novel after another, Alice McDermott has made the insular world of New York's Irish Catholic immigrants in the first half of the 20th century her own. And in focusing tightly on a close–knit community of ordinary people, she leads us to a deep understanding of the human condition. The Ninth Hour, McDermott's eighth novel, is about an order of nursing nuns and the needy families, elderly shut–ins, disabled invalids and strapped widows they care for in a predominantly Irish Catholic neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Alice McDermott is one of America's greatest contemporary writers, and, in this conversation with poet Siobhán Campbell, she will explore her literary genealogy and her writing life in a troubled USA.
Alice McDermott was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1953. Her first novel, A Bigamists' Daughter, was published to wide acclaim in 1982. That Night, her second novel, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. A film version of That Night was produced by Warner Bros. and released in the spring of 1992. At Weddings and Wakes, her third novel, became a New York Times bestseller. Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times praised McDermott's "rich, supple prose" and Bruce Bawer called At Weddings and Wakes "a haunting and masterly work of literary art" in his review for The Wall Street Journal.
She received her B.A. in 1975 from the State University of New York at Oswego, and her M.A. in 1978 from the University of New Hampshire. She has taught at the University of California at San Diego and American University, has been a writer-in-residence at Lynchburg and Hollins Colleges in Virginia, and was lecturer in English at the University of New Hampshire. Her short stories have appeared in Ms., Redbook, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen.
The recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, she is currently writer-in-residence at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She lives outside Washington, with her husband, a neuroscientist, and three children.
Siobhan Campbell is a poet and critic. Author of five books of poetry, she publishes regularly in literary journals.