A novelist Publishers Weekly calls “a master psychological portraitist,” 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 and 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 psychological 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 and a witness to the convoluted allegiances and painful history of her host family. Publishers Weekly says that the novel is “expertly constructed, full of surprises, superbly paced, and sweetly sad.” GraceAnne A. DeCandido writes 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 local 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 becomes an alcoholic in response to the oppressiveness of her new situation. As Vida teaches the classic novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles, the reader comes to understand the parallels between the two stories. 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 1930’s Papua New Guinea and loosely based on the life of the anthropologist Margaret Mead. Reviewed 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 2014, the New England Book Award for Fiction 2014 and was a finalist in the National Book Critics Circle Awards. 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. The novel is being translated into numerous languages and a feature film 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 B.A. in English Literature from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. She has taught English and Creative Writing at several universities and high schools in this country 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 many publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and several anthologies.
For more information on Lily King, please visit www.lilykingbooks.com.