Sunday, March 1, 2015

Emily Gray Tedrowe

Emily Gray Tedrowe has published fiction in Crab Orchard Review, Other Voices, and Sycamore Review, among other journals. She won an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award for one of her short stories, and has received fellowships from the Ragdale Foundation and the Virginia Center for Creative Artists. Commuters, her first novel, was named a Best New Paperback by Entertainment Weekly.

Tedrowe's latest novel is Blue Stars.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I'm late to the party on this wonderful novel, but I'm so glad I just read A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Earlier this winter I took a long weekend's writing retreat with a good friend, the writer Zoe Zolbrod. We stayed at a Benedictine monastery where I've often found the quiet and simplicity conducive to work. She and I stayed in dorm-style rooms side by side, writing our new novels with the focused intensity two working mothers of young kids know how to bring when they get an opportunity like this. For breaks, we took long walks on the prairie preserve and shared meal time with the monastery community, including the three sisters in residence there. We spoke with admiration about their lives devoted to social justice and care for the earth. Zoe said, this reminds me of Ruth Ozeki's novel - I hadn't read it - but her enthusiasm made me curious. I promptly broke my no-internet rule for the weekend, went online, and ordered a copy. Back home, I was delighted to fall into this inventive and emotionally gripping novel. Ozeki's structure leads us back and forth in time, between two protagonists struggling to make sense of all our basic questions: why am I here? How can I handle pain? What about loss? Also the book overflows with all manner of fascinating material: the Japanese tsunami, the philosophical question of time, suicide clubs, cyber-bullying, land art. My favorite character is the 104-year-old Zen Buddhist nun at the heart of the story, whose long life of sorrow, feminism, art-making also includes the way she gives courage to others, including her desperately troubled great granddaughter. Possibly also the readers of this fine novel, a tribute to fierce peaceful women of all times and places.
Visit Emily Gray Tedrowe's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue