“A master psychological portraitist” (Publishers Weekly), novelist Lily King brings her deft and graceful characterization to stories that illuminate the inner workings of life’s most complicated relationships. Since the publication of her debut novel, The Pleasing Hour, which won the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and was a New York Times Notable Book and an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award, she has been praised for her unsentimental style and piercing insight.
The Pleasing Hour is a coming-of-age story centered on Rosie, who at seventeen conceives a child for her infertile, married sister. After the baby is born, Rosie leaves her home in Vermont to become an au pair for Parisians Nicole and Marc Tivot, who have three children. Rosie becomes both a participant in and witness to the convoluted allegiances and painful history of her host family. Publishers Weekly called the novel “expertly constructed, full of surprises, superbly paced, and sweetly sad.” GraceAnne A. DeCandido wrote in Booklist that “with longing and sweetness, this subtle and gorgeously crafted novel takes us into a tangle of family affections.”
In her second novel, The English Teacher, King returns to the complexities of family life. English teacher Vida Avery marries a Maine widower with children. Still grieving over their mother’s death, the children reject Vida and her son, Peter. Consumed with secrets of her own, Vida begins abusing alcohol. As Vida teaches the classic novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles, the reader comes to grasp the parallels between the two stories, even when Vida herself cannot. Austin Chronicle contributor Marrit Ingman calls the novel “a keen and forthright study of the inner workings of a family circle.” The English Teacher was a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year, a Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year, and the winner of the Maine Fiction Award.
King’s latest novel, Euphoria, is set in 1930s Papua New Guinea and loosely based on the life of the anthropologist Margaret Mead. On the cover of The New York Times Book Review, Emily Eakin called Euphoria “a taut, witty, fiercely intelligent tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace.”
Euphoria won the Kirkus Award for Fiction and the New England Book Award for Fiction, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. It was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2014 by The New York Times Book Review and was included in TIME’s Top 10 Fiction Books of 2014 and the Amazon Best Books of 2014. A feature film adaptation is underway.
“There are some novels that take you by the hand with their lovely prose alone; there are those that pull you in with sensual renderings of time and place and a compelling story; and there are still others that seduce you solely with their subject matter. But it is a rare novel indeed that does all of the above at once and with complete artistic mastery. Yet this is precisely what Lily King has done in her stunningly passionate and gorgeously written Euphoria. It is simply one of the finest novels I’ve read in years, and it puts Lily King firmly in the top rank of our most accomplished novelists.”
—Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog
King grew up in Massachusetts and received her BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her MA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. She has taught English and creative writing at universities and high schools in the US and abroad. She is the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship and a Whiting Writer’s Award. Her short fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and several anthologies. Her next novel, Writers and Lovers, will publish in winter 2020.
For more information on Lily King, please visit lilykingbooks.com.