Wednesday, May 25
Ann Patchett: Writers on a New England Stage
The Music Hall and New Hamphire Public Radio present
Writers on a New England Stage
Friday, June 10, 7:30pm
The New York Times bestselling author of Bel Canto and Run will present her new book, State of Wonder
“Expect miracles when you read Ann Patchett’s fiction.”
– New York Times Book Review
Ann Patchett, the celebrated author of bestsellers Bel Canto and Run, will join Writers on a New England Stage at The Music Hall Historic Theater on Friday, June 10, at 7:30pm. The celebrated author series is presented by The Music Hall and New Hampshire Public Radio in collaboration with Yankee Magazine and RiverRun Bookstore. Patchett will take the stage to discuss her provocative new novel, State of Wonder, a tale of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazonian jungle. Following her talk, the author will be interviewed by Virginia Prescott, host of New Hampshire Public Radio’s “Word of Mouth.”
“Ann Patchett is one of those brilliant writers who entertains and enthralls us while also illuminating the darker corners of our everyday lives,” said Margaret Talcott, Associate Producer of Writers on a New England Stage. “She’s got keen insight into our world today - from the biggest global issues to the personal dilemmas each of us face. I can’t wait to hear her speak about State of Wonder.”
About Patchett’s novel, State of Wonder
With State of Wonder, New York Times bestselling author Ann Patchett is at the height of her powers. In her most ambitious novel to date, Patchett takes readers to the lush, alluring, and transformative Amazonian rain forest. The story of one woman’s journey into a modern heart of darkness, State of Wonder measures the bounds of friendship, and explores both deeply personal and wider ethical questions about the choices we make in our lives.
Marina Singh is a 42-year-old doctor who, for reasons that come to light in the course of the novel, eschewed private practice for the safer cocoon of drug research. Working for a pharmaceutical giant in her native Minnesota, Marina has compartmentalized her life with a dispassionate sense of order. Her only small act of indiscretion, a quiet love affair with the starchy Mr. Fox, her company’s CEO, is itself the picture of propriety. Marina’s carefully constructed world is shaken, however, when her officemate and friend, Anders Eckman, is reported dead from a fever, contracted while investigating the company’s field work in the jungles of Brazil.
In a request freighted with emotional complexity, Mr. Fox asks Marina to travel to Brazil to ascertain the details of Anders’s death, and also to report on the progress of the jungle research being conducted by the brilliant, imperious Dr. Annick Swenson, who has been withholding pertinent information about the project. Marina is reluctant to go, not only because of the danger and discomfort of such a journey, but also because she has a complicated past connection with Dr. Swenson, once her much admired, if feared teacher in medical school. Still, she goes, both out of sense of duty to Mr. Fox and the company, and because she feels she needs to find an explanation for Anders’s unnecessary death for his wife and young sons.
Marina’s investigation takes her to the research camp Dr. Swenson has built among the Lakashi Indians, which proves to be a place both fearsome and wonderful, populated by exotic flora and fauna, infested with worrisome insects, and weighted by a canopy of oppressive heat and humidity. There, she discovers some startling facts about Dr. Swenson’s research, and is faced with peril and impossible choices.
With lush, evocative prose, Ann Patchett vividly brings to life the dark, haunting, alien world of the jungle, a marked counterpoint to the spare, icy landscape that has shaped Marina’s cosseted perceptions. Patchett has wrapped a profound and moving exploration of large themes—courage, moral choices, the clash of cultures, friendship, love—around a gripping adventure story. STATE OF WONDER is a career-defining book for the writer the New York Times has called “generous, fearless, and startlingly wise.”
Advance Reviews for Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder
“A spellbinder…Thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures—even better than Patchett’s breakthrough, Bel Canto.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Patchett is a master storyteller who has an entertaining habit of dropping ordinary people into extraordinary and exotic circumstances to see what they’re made of. An expansive page-turner…Patchett’s fluid prose dissolves in the suspense of this out-there adventure, a juggernaut of a trip to the crossroads of science, ethics, and commerce that readers will hate to see end.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Superbly rendered…Patchett exhibits an extraordinary ability to bring the horrors and the wonders of the Amazon jungle to life, and her singular characters are wonderfully drawn…Powerful and captivating.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
About the 2010-2011 Writers on a New England Stage series
Writers on a New England Stage was created by executive producer Patricia Lynch, also executive director of The Music Hall, and is presented in partnership with New Hampshire Public Radio and in collaboration with Yankee Magazine and Portsmouth’s independent RiverRun Bookstore. Since 2005, the series has spotlighted a broad range of celebrated authors including Alan Alda, Mitch Albom, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Dan Brown, Isabel Allende, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, E.L. Doctorow, Anita Diamant, Madeleine Albright, the late John Updike, Wally Lamb, Jodi Picoult, Greg Mortenson, and Cokie Roberts, among many others.
Next up in the series Writers on a New England Stage is Neil Gaiman, who will take the stage to discuss the tenth anniversary edition of his fantasy classic, the New York Times bestseller AMERICAN GODS, on Wednesday, June 22, at 7:30pm. Author David McCullough will follow on Thursday, June 23, at 7:30pm. McCullough comes to us with his new work of history THE GREATER JOURNEY: Americans in Paris, 1830-1900. And, on Thursday, July 21, at 7:30pm, author Ben Mezrich will join the series. The author of Accidental Billionaire (the basis of the movie The Social Network), Mezrich will present his new work of nonfiction, SEX ON THE MOON. Each author’s presentation is followed by an interview with Virginia Prescott, host of New Hampshire Public Radio’s “Word of Mouth.” Live music is performed by the award-winning house band Dreadnaught. The live shows are rebroadcast on New Hampshire Public Radio’s noontime program “Word of Mouth.”
Book Clubs and High School Guests of The Music Hall
At each Writers event, The Music Hall hosts local high school students selected by their teachers, who come free of charge to the event and get an opportunity to meet the author. The Music Hall welcomes local book clubs attending on the night to take part in a drawing to be guests at a private backstage book signing/reception with the featured writer. For more information on how to join the Writers on a New England Stage book club list and drawing, contact Associate Producer Margaret Talcott at