“Glass’s ability to illuminate and deepen the mysteries of her characters’ lives is extraordinary.”
—Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours
In half a dozen critically acclaimed novels, Julia Glass turns her sharp eye, supple prose, and incisive wit to the intricacies of love and family. Among her chosen subjects, according to The Boston Globe, are “parents and children, the ephemerality of beauty, the inexplicability of desire, the nature of ‘lasting love,’ and the definition of family.”
Glass’s first novel, Three Junes, won the National Book Award for Fiction. The three-part tale takes place during the Junes of 1989, 1995, and 1999, following one Scottish family through moments of grief and joy, closeness and distance. “Masterfully,” Katherine Wolff writes in The New York Times Book Review, “Three Junes shows how love follows a circuitous path, how its messengers come to wear disguises. Julia Glass has written a generous book about family expectations—but also about happiness, luck, and, as she puts it, the ‘grandiosity of genes.’”
A follow-up, The Whole World Over, solidified her spot as one of the strongest novelists of her generation, earning a starred review from Publishers Weekly and raves from Los Angeles Times Book Review and Chicago Tribune, who wrote, “Glass offers unobtrusive yet resounding insights into the paradoxes of families, the necessary solace of friendship and the volatility of intimate relationships gay and straight. Her social commentary is at once mischievous and trenchant.”
I See You Everywhere, Glass’s third book, won the SUNY John Gardner Fiction Award. The collection of linked stories chronicles 25 years in the lives of sisters Louisa and Clem. Writing in The New York Times Book Review, Liesl Schillinger said, “Rich, intricate, and alive with emotion, the book reconstructs the complicated bonds between Louisa and Clem… In this novel, Glass has used the edges and color blocks of her own life to build an honest portrait of sister-love and sister-hate—interlocking, brave and forgiving—made whole through art, despite missing pieces in life.”
“Glass’s novels feel a bit like looking out a tiny attic window onto a broad vista. At first, they seem like small domestic dramas, but they open up to consider expansive topics that might have seemed far outside their scope.”
Glass’s recent novels probe the complex relationships that mark a creative life. And the Dark Sacred Night is the story of Kit Noonan, an art historian and married father at a crossroads in his life. Kit goes searching for the father he never knew, discovering in the course of this journey new truths about himself and the world around him. Describing the novel’s depth and complexity, The San Francisco Chronicle reviewer Carolyn Cooke wrote, “And the Dark Sacred Night is a quiet novel the way a modest rope of pearls represents the urgent efforts of two dozen oysters.”
In A House Among The Trees, Glass tells the story of a world-famous children’s author whose unexpected death causes a massive upheaval for his assistant-turned-executrix. Friendship, love, ambition, and the pitfalls of celebrity make A House Among the Trees a classic example of Glass’s rich plots and unforgettable characters. The New Orleans Advocate wrote, “A House Among the Trees shows [Glass] at her tender, compassionate, thoughtful best, thinking about art, about life, and the way they intertwine so beautifully to make us, finally, fully human.” The Chicago Tribune called A House Among the Trees “spell-binding…. Elegant and character-driven.”
Her latest is Vigil Harbor, a symphonic communal novel about a small coastal town where climate instability, lost love, and the mysteries of the sea intertwine. A decade in the future, in a world where domestic terrorist acts are escalating as rapidly as extreme storms, the appearance of two outsiders in the picturesque town of Vigil Harbor binds together the fates of the residents and threatens to reveal long-held secrets. “Julia Glass gives us exactly what we need during these trans-apocalyptic times, a novel of heart and humanity set against the growing insanity,” said Gary Shteyngart, author of Our Country Friends. Vigil Harbor reveals Glass in all her virtuosity, braiding multiple voices and dazzling strands of plot into a story where mortal fears intersect with the immortal mysteries of the deep.
“Glass propels her characters through a world that is sometimes dire but also sweetly normal and often joyful…. She is a master of milieu, an old French word that means ‘middle place’—the place in which all her characters, young and old, continue to engage with the world and where she, a novelist in mid-career, keeps refining their stories.”
—The Washington Post Book World
Glass has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Other awards include the Sense of Place Award, three Nelson Algren awards, the Tobias Wolff Award, and and the Grodin Fine Arts Award. In 1999, she won the Pirate’s Alley Medal for Best Novella for “Collies”, which ultimately grew into her debut novel Three Junes. She has been a writer in-residence at the James Merrill House in Stonington, Connecticut, and a Director’s Guest at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbertide, Italy.
Glass’s essays and short stories have been widely anthologized, most recently in Anonymous Sex, an anthology of unattributed erotic short stories, edited by Hillary Jordan and Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, as well as in Why I Like This Story, edited by Jackson R. Bryer, and in Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers, edited by Eleanor Henderson and Anna Solomon. Her long-form story “Chairs in the Rafters” is available as a Kindle Single. Over more than a decade, she taught creative writing workshops at programs including the Fine Arts Work Center, the Yale Writers’ Conference, the Cuttyhunk Island Writers’ Residency, and the MFA program at Brooklyn College. She is now a Senior Distinguished Writer in Residence at Emerson College, teaching in the Writing, Literature, and Publishing department.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Glass attended Yale College, where she earned her BA as a Scholar of the House in studio art. She began writing fiction in her early thirties, publishing her first short story at age 37 and her first novel at 46. In 2002, she dedicated her National Book Award to late bloomers of all kinds. In 2004, after 24 years in New York City, she returned to Massachusetts. She is proud to be a cofounder and director of Twenty Summers, a nonprofit arts and culture program based in the historic Hawthorne Barn in Provincetown, a board member of the Provincetown Book Festival and J2RC Dances, and a member of the Literary Board at 826 Boston.
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