Maureen Corrigan

Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR's Fresh Air, is a critic-in-residence and lecturer at Georgetown University. She is an associate editor of and contributor to Mystery and Suspense Writers (Scribner) and the winner of the 1999 Edgar Award for Criticism, presented by the Mystery Writers of America.

Corrigan served as a juror for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. So We Read On, her forthcoming book on the extraordinary "second act" of The Great Gatsby, will be published by Little, Brown in September 2014.

Corrigan's literary memoir, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading! was published in 2005. Corrigan is also a reviewer and columnist for The Washington Post's Book World. In addition to serving on the advisory panel of The American Heritage Dictionary, she has chaired the Mystery and Suspense judges' panel of the Los Angeles TimesBook Prize.

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10:16am

Wed April 11, 2012
Book Reviews

'Present': For Nadine Gordimer, Politics Hit Home

Nadine Gordimer was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Photo courtesy of the author

Nadine Gordimer's trademark characters live for politics, the Struggle. You get the feeling they would be sick to their collective stomachs if they ever even tried to bite into a gourmet cupcake.

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8:50am

Wed March 14, 2012
Book Reviews

Two Books That Delight In New York City's Dirt

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 9:25 am

Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Some years ago I was visiting Disneyland and had a culture-clash encounter there with my one of fellow Americans. I was standing with my daughter on the miles-long meandering line for "It's a Small World After All" and I fell into a conversation with another mom; when this woman found out I was a native New Yorker, she treated me to her verdict on the city: "It's so dirty there!"

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8:40am

Wed March 14, 2012
Book Reviews

'Coral Glynn': The Art Of Repression

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 10:03 am

istockphoto.com

I was in my local independent bookstore last week, enjoying the endangered pleasure of wandering around and snuffling through interesting-looking books, when I overheard two women talking in front of the new releases section. "I need a new British novelist," one of them said. Ladies, I should have spoken up, but the moment passed and, besides, it was too awkward to explain that one of the best British novelists writing today was born in New Jersey.

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10:16am

Mon February 27, 2012
Book Reviews

China On The Court: NBA Meets The 'Brave Dragons'

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"Linsanity" is the magical byword of this basketball season. As anyone who is even semi-conscious knows, Jeremy Lin, the NBA's first Taiwanese-American player by way of Harvard, was passed over for college athletic scholarships and ignored in NBA drafts. Then, he landed with the New York Knicks and has since proved to everybody that athletic prejudice against Asians is Lincredibly stupid. Except, as journalist Jim Yardley points out in his new book on basketball fever in China, Chinese players and coaches happen to endorse that prejudice.

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9:01am

Wed February 15, 2012
Book Reviews

More Than Melancholy: 'In-Flight' Stories Soar

Random House

The Brits: You've got to hand it to them. The Empire may be long gone, but they still reign supreme when it comes to effortlessly exuding mordant wit. For anyone who savors the acerbic literary likes of Evelyn Waugh or the Amises, father and son, Helen Simpson is just the ticket.

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8:48am

Mon January 30, 2012
Book Reviews

'An Available Man': Love After Loss

cover detail

In my family, we referred to them as "the brisket brigade" — those single ladies of a certain age who began bombarding my brother-in-law with casseroles and commiseration soon after my sister-in-law died. It's a cruel fact of life that nobody plies widows with months of home-cooked meals and baked goods; as Jonathan Swift might have modestly proposed, widows might as well eat each other — there's a surplus supply of them, anyway. But, a new widower gets the Crock-Pots and the romantic fantasies all fired up.

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9:39am

Wed January 11, 2012
Book Reviews

'Hope': A Comic Novel About the Holocaust?

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 10:54 am

Shalom Auslander is also the author of the short story collection Beware of God and a memoir, Foreskin's Lament. He is a frequent contributor to This American Life.
Franco Vogt Courtesy Riverhead Books

Years ago, when my daughter was a toddler, my husband and I were friendly with another couple who had a child the same age. The friendship came to an end when the wife of the couple let slip that her husband had dressed their daughter as JonBenet Ramsey for Halloween. "He has an offbeat sense of humor," the wife explained to me. That's one way to look at it. Or else, as I thought, maybe hubby's "humor" wasn't funny at all — just perversely detached from the horrific death of an actual 6-year-old.

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9:59am

Tue January 3, 2012
Book Reviews

'Diaries' Reveals New York Through The Ages

New York Diaries captures impressions of the city from Henry Hudson to the bloggers watching the events of Sept. 11.
istockphoto.com

Most everyone's spirits are a bit deflated after the holidays. So, as a literary antidote, I recommend a just-published anthology called New York Diaries: 1609 – 2009. Editor Teresa Carpenter has collected four centuries worth of diary excerpts written by people, great and small, who've lived in or just passed through one of the greatest cities in the world.

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6:24am

Wed December 14, 2011
Best Books Of 2011

Year-End Wrap-Up: The 10 Best Novels Of 2011

Priscilla Nielsen for NPR

This was a terrific year for fiction and a particularly strong year for first-time novelists. Some of the literary debutantes who glide through this "10 best" list are so young, their wisdom teeth probably haven't had time to become impacted yet. Majestically bringing up the rear of the procession are some much-decorated veterans whose sustained achievements in fiction should ensure that the young 'uns don't rest too comfortably on their laurels.

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10:49am

Wed November 16, 2011
Book Reviews

A Quaint, Compelling 'Pilgrim' Tale In The New World

I'll admit, it's kind of hokey to be talking about a novel called The Pilgrim right before Thanksgiving. What's even more quaint is the fact that The Pilgrim is one of those straightforward works of historical fiction the likes of which we don't see so much anymore.

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1:52pm

Mon November 7, 2011
Book Reviews

Life Without Plot In 'Leaving The Atocha Station'

Ben Lerner's debut novel, Leaving the Atocha Station is one of the most compelling books about nothing I've ever read.

Ordinarily, I'm not a fan of this kind of spinning-one's-wheels-in-the-sand fiction. Austen and Dickens and Hammett got to me early and spoiled me: I like plot. But Lerner's offbeat little novel manages to convey what everyday life feels like before we impose the structure of plot on our experience.

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7:57am

Thu November 3, 2011
Book Reviews

A Critic To Remember: Pauline Kael At The 'Movies'

Originally published on Thu November 3, 2011 10:16 am

Pauline Kael was a film critic for The New Yorker from 1967 to 1991, as well as the author of several books, including I Lost It at the Movies and For Keeps: 30 Years at the Movies.

AP

To quote the immortal title of her 1965 collection of movie reviews, Pauline Kael may have "lost it at the movies," but she infinitely renewed her wide-eyed wonder as a moviegoer in her essays for The New Yorker magazine. Kael was no virgin as a critic when she started writing for The New Yorker in 1967 — but when she loved a movie, she always wrote like she was being touched for the very first time.

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9:50am

Mon October 17, 2011
Book Reviews

The Sad Lesson Of 'Body Snatchers': People Change

Sometimes the stories that stay with us aren't the classics or even all that polished. They're what some critics call "good-bad" stories: the writing may be workmanlike and the characters barely developed, but something about them is so potent that they're unforgettable, so unforgettable they can attain the status of myth.

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10:31am

Fri September 30, 2011
Books We Like

'Freedom': Franzen's Novel Earns High Praise

Jonathan Franzen is also the author of The Corrections: A Novel, and The Discomfort Zone, a memoir. He is pictured above at The New Yorker Festival Fiction Night in New York City in 2009.
Joe Kohen Getty Images

This review was originally broadcast on September 9, 2010. Freedom is now available in paperback.

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3:10pm

Mon September 26, 2011
Book Reviews

'Lost Memory Of Skin' Goes Where Most Fiction Won't

Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 10:01 am

You've got to hand it to Russell Banks: He's certainly not writing with an eye to please readers or to be taken up by book clubs across the land. Lost Memory of Skin is not aiming to be a "crossover" literary stealth hit. If you're going to read it, you're the one who will have to "cross over" to Banks' world, and it ain't very pretty on his side of the social divide.

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10:13am

Tue September 20, 2011
Book Reviews

'The Swerve': Ideas That Rooted The Renaissance

The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt.

The latest distress signal being sounded on the chat sites I share with my bookish friends is that IKEA is about to introduce an updated version of its classic BILLY bookcase — some 10 of which totter to overflowing in my own basement. Anticipating "the death of the book," IKEA has redesigned the good old BILLY with deeper shelves and glass doors, thus transforming it from a bookcase into a tchotchke cabinet.

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8:53am

Thu August 25, 2011
Book Reviews

A Novel's Nuanced Take On Post-9/11 America

Amy Waldman was co-chief of the South Asia bureau of The New York Times. Her fiction has appeared in The Atlantic and the Boston Review.
Pieter M. van Hattem

The Submission is a gorgeously written novel of ideas about America in the wake of September 11th. It tackles subjects like identity politics, undocumented immigrants and the stress fractures of democracy. Maybe the most audacious question that's posed by Amy Waldman's debut novel, however, is the implicit one that lingers long after a reader finishes it: Namely, could it be that a decade after the attacks, America finally has the 9/11 novel — one that does justice, artistically and historically, to the aftershocks of that day?

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10:31am

Mon August 15, 2011
Book Reviews

Teens, Sex And Tech Tear A 'Beautiful Life' Apart

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I've been on a roll this summer reading and reviewing good novels about family crises — Rachel DeWoskin's Big Girl Small, Dana Spiotta's Stone Arabia, Kevin Wilson's The Family Fang.

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9:05am

Mon August 8, 2011
Book Reviews

A Delightful Portrait Of The Screwball 'Family Fang'

There's a temperature at which water boils and there's a temperature at which the brain melts and we've reached it. It's August, and almost everywhere in the country, it's hot. The will to think has oozed out in millions of droplets of forehead sweat. That's why it's such a minty fresh delight to open up Kevin Wilson's debut novel, The Family Fang, and feel the revitalizing blast of original thought; robust invention; screwball giddiness.

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