Friday, November 17, 2006

The novels of Penelope Fitzgerald

I have a new post up at Spot-on on "The Novels of Penelope Fitzgerald."

It opens:

Everyone must think their favorite writers do not get the attention they deserve and that's how I feel about Penelope Fitzgerald, the British writer who died on April 28, 2000. Fitzgerald did, in fact, enjoy considerable critical recognition during her lifetime: her novel Offshore won the Booker Prize in 1979 and other novels were shortlisted for the prize in later years. The Blue Flower, generally considered her masterpiece, won the 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award, beating out novels by authors Philip Roth and Don DeLillo. But she is little discussed in the popular marketplace, particularly here in the U.S.

Recently The Blue Flower tied as one of the third best British, Irish or Commonwealth novels of the last twenty-five years in a poll of writers organized by the Observer ( U.K.). Perhaps not as impressive, it was one of my two favorite novels of 1995. More remarkable, I have never read a word suggesting Fitzgerald is overrated or unworthy of the praise she received.

Prizes and acclaim are all well and good, but what makes Fitzgerald so great? Part of the reason I find her work so enchanting is that it is very difficult to answer that question.

I then go on and show that I can't answer the question but nevertheless try to interest readers in Fitzgerald's novels. Click here to go to the essay.

--Marshal Zeringue