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Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
February 2, 2001
Andrea Barrett received the National Book Award in 1996 for Ship Fever, a collection of shorts stories. Barrett's new novel The Voyage of the Narwhal (1998) is a story of Arctic exploration set in 1855. A ship sails from Philadelphia in search of another lost expedition and encounters wild beauty and terrible danger in the remote North. Barrett adds an often overlooked dimension to the adventure: the women left behind by members of the crew provide a good portion of the novel's interest as they cope with anxiety, resentment, an abandonment.
Writer Thomas Mallon says, [Barrett's] 'Voyage' is a brilliant reversal of 'Heart of Darkness': the danger is not that the characters will 'go native,' but that a lust for scientific knowledge and intellectual distinction will drive them to cruelties they would have been incapable of before."
Barrett is the author of four previous novels, including The Forms of Water (1993), The Middle Kingdom (1991), Secret Harmonies (1989) and Lucid Starts (1998). The New York Times Book Review said of Ship Fever "[Barrett's] work stands out for its sheer intelligence. . .The overall effect is quietly dazzling." "In Barrett's hands," said the Boston Globe, "science is transformed from hard and known fact into malleable, strange and thrilling fictional material." The collection was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the "25 Best Books" of 1996.
Barrett attended Union College in Schenectady and teaches in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
Andrea Barrett visited the NYS Writers Institute on October 13, 1998.
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