Spotlight on Spiotta

9781501122729_8f332This weekend (and online now) the NYT‘s Sunday Magazine will feature a profile of Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others (S&S/Scribner, Mar. 8), one of the critics’  most highly anticipated novels of the spring season,

The feature, written by author Susan Burton, traces the objects that inspire Spiotta (currently phones and sound) and dips into her biography (her dad once ran Francis Ford Coppola’s studio, Zoetrope).

Burton summarizes Spiotta’s approach and interests as an author, saying she “writes radiant, concentrated books that, as she has put it, consider ‘the way things external to us shape us: money, technology, art, place, history.’ ”

Despite the critical interest in Spiotta, Burton points out that her work still is not as “well known as it should be” and goes on to speculate that:

“this may have something to do with its deep and uncategorizable ambition: Her books are simultaneously vast and local, exploring great American themes (self-invention, historical amnesia) within idiosyncratic worlds (phone phreaks, ’80s Los Angeles adolescence). She has been compared with Don DeLillo and Joan Didion, but her tone and mood are distinctly her own: She’s fascinated, not alienated.”

It is that connection to the world that author George Saunders, who works with Spiotta in the creative writing program at Syracuse University, highlights as among her most notable features, saying:

‘‘Her gaze is very smart and witty but doesn’t have any of that empty, snarky irony you sometimes see in writing about contemporary culture, that sense that America is rotten, past its prime, capable of nothing good. On the contrary, I think her main stance is that most difficult one: She who praises.’’

Innocents and Others is Spiotta’s fourth book. Earlier titles have gotten strong award attention. Stone Arabia was a National Books Critics Circle Award finalist and Eat the Document was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Two years ago, the NYT‘s Sunday Magazine brought Spiotta’s colleague to a wider audience and best seller status with a cover story, “George Saunders Has Written The Best Book You’ll Read This Year.” Keep your eyes open for a similar ripple effect.

Comments are closed.