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Jane Smiley Biography

(1951?– ), Barn Blind, The Age of Grief, The Greenlanders, A Thousand Acres, King Lear

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American novelist, born in Los Angeles, educated at Vassar and the University of Iowa. Her fiction is notable for the range of its techniques and subject matter. Her first novel, Barn Blind (1980), is set in Iowa, where she became resident; it is the tragic story of a woman's obsessive love of horses. A collection of quietly controlled stories, The Age of Grief (1987), was followed by the epic The Greenlanders (1988), a long saga set in the fourteenth century which is also the story of one family, the Gunnarsons. It was A Thousand Acres (1992), an inventive contemporary recasting of King Lear in her favoured setting of rural Iowa, that raised her to the front ranks of American writers, earning her, among other prizes, the Pulitzer. The novel presents its tragic theme with an array of domestic detail in the prevalent American feminine tradition; the modern Lear is an incestuous hog farmer. Smiley followed this great success with a move to light comedy in the academic satire Moo (1995).

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