“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 an American au pair in Europe whose coming-of-age defies usual conceptions of naïveté and experience. 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. Following the story of a mother and son’s vital bond, the book raises questions about notions of intimacy, honesty, loyalty, family, and the real meaning of home. 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.
A New York Times Editor’s Choice, Father of the Rain spans three decades in a riveting psychological portrait of a wildly charismatic patriarch as seen through the eyes of his daughter. A family drama set in an upper-middle-class East Coast suburb, Father of the Rain was a Publishers Weekly Best Novel of the Year and winner of the 2010 New England Book Award for Fiction and the Maine Fiction Award. Vanity Fair praised Father of the Rain as “spellbinding . . . King brilliantly captures the gravitational pull of the past and the way it can eclipse the promise of the present.”
King’s 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’s next novel, out in March 2020, is Writers and Lovers, an unforgettable portrait of the artist as a young woman. Blindsided by her mother’s sudden death, and wrecked by a recent love affair, Casey Peabody is thirty-one in the summer of 1997 and still clutching on to something nearly all her old friends have let go of: the determination to live a creative life as a novelist. When she falls for two very different men at the same time, Casey’s fight to fulfill her creative ambitions and balance the conflicting demands of art and life is challenged in ways that push her to the brink. Writers and Lovers has been named a Most Anticipated Book by publications including Entertainment Weekly, Vulture, Lit Hub, and Marie Claire. In her praise of Writers and Lovers Christina Baker Kline raves “Lily King writes masterfully about desire and loss, creativity and inspiration, and how each overlaps and influences the other. Her insights about love—how it is elusive and ineffable—and about grief—how it is something that you live inside—took my breath away.”
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.