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Mary Morris's fifth novel, Acts of God , the story of a girl whose father, an insurance claims adjuster, led a duplicitous life, was published in September, 2000 by PicadorUSA. Born in Chicago in l947, Morris moved East to go to college. Though she never returned to the Middle West, she often writes about the region and its tug. Morris likes the fact that there is more magnetisim around the shores of Lake Michigan than the North Pole. She feels drawn there and feel an affinity for Midwestern writers such as Willa Cather and Mark Twain who wrote their stories of the Middle West from afar.
In her first collection of short stories, Vanishing Animals & Other Stories , awarded the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts & Letters, Morris writes about childhood and adolescent memories. The Chicago Tribune called Morris "a marvelous storyteller-a budding Isaac Bashevis Singer, a young Doris Lessing, a talent to be watched and read." Morris's stories often deal with the tension between home and away. Travel is an important theme in many of the stories in her three collections, including Vanishing Animals, The Bus of Dreams , and The Lifeguard Stories . It is also a recurrent theme in her trilogy of travel memoirs, including the acclaimed Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone, Wall to Wall: from Beijing to Berlin by Rail , and Angels & Aliens: A Journey West . In her five novels, including The Waiting Room, The Night Sky (formerly published as A Mother's Love ) and House Arrest , Morris writes of family, its difficulties and disappointments, its iron grip and necessity, and ultimately the comfort family can bring.
Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, Morris sees herself as a storyteller, weaving tales. A Japanese critic once, referring to her non-fiction, told Morris that she is not really a travel writer; rather she writes stories that take place during journeys.
Her many novels and story collections have been translated into Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Swedish and Japanese.
The recipient of many prizes and awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the George W. Perkins Fellowship at Princeton University, Morris is currently working on a generational family saga, set in Chicago, during the jazz age. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and daughter and teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College.
Mary Morris (along with fellow panelist Jan Morris) was with us in 1991 for the Ninth Annual Key West Literary Seminar, Literature of Travel: A Sense Of Place. We are most pleased to have her back.
Read more at www.marymorris.net
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