Getting out & About

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 12, 2001 | Go to article overview

Getting out & About


While, best-selling writer Jane Hamilton's first novel, "The Book of Ruth," won the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award, what really gave it life occurred nearly 10 years later when Oprah chose it for her book club.

"It was a ride," says the 43-year-old author in an interview published in Redbook magazine.

Since then, Hamilton has published two other books, both of which received acclaim. One, "A Map of the World," also made Oprah's book club and was made into a movie starring Sigourney Weaver. The other, "A Short History of a Prince," is in bookstores now.

Hamilton herself will be in Woodstock Thursday, speaking at the opera house, where she appears as the latest guest in its Creative Living Series.

Hamilton was raised in Oak Park and has never really left the Midwest, so it's not surprising that her signature backgrounds and characters are Midwestern. She has lived for 20 years in Rochester, Wis.

It is something of a paradox, however, that a writer who describes herself as having a "very ordinary life" writes so effectively of outcasts existing in environments very familiar to them.

But it is the small-town aspect of her Wisconsin home that is not native to her, which, she says, lends itself to her writing.

"I think because I'm an outsider. I've always felt sort of like an anthropologist observing a foreign culture. I have a different kind of eye for the world around me than somebody who grew up in it," she said in the Redbook interview. …

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