Sisterland (Sittenfeld) - Author Bio

Author Bio
Birth—August 23, 1975
Where—Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Education—B.A., Stanford University; M.F.A., Iowa
   Writers' Workshop
Currently—lives in St. Louis, Missouri

Elizabeth Curtis Sittenfeld is an American writer, the author of several novels: Prep (2005), the tale of a Massachusetts prep school, The Man of My Dreams (2006), a coming-of-age novel and an examination of romantic love, American Wife (2008), a fictional story loosely based on the life of First Lady Laura Bush, and Sisterland (2013). She has also written a number of short stories.

Sittenfeld was the second of four children (three girls and a boy) of Paul G. Sittenfeld, an investment adviser, and Elizabeth (Curtis) Sittenfeld, an art history teacher and librarian at Seven Hills School, a private school in Cincinnati. Her brother, P.G., is a member of the Cincinnati City Council.

She attended Seven Hills School through the eighth grade, then attended high school at Groton School, a boarding school in Groton, Massachusetts, graduating in 1993. In 1992, the summer before her senior year, she won Seventeen magazine's fiction contest.

She attended Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York before transferring to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. At Stanford, she studied Creative Writing, wrote articles for the college newspaper, and edited that paper's weekly arts magazine. At the time, she was also chosen as one of Glamour magazine's College Women of the Year. She earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.

Her first novel, Prep (2005), which took her three years to write, concerns a girl, Lee Fiora, from South Bend, Indiana, who goes to Ault School, an elite boarding school near Boston, Massachusetts. Some think Ault is a thinly veiled Groton School, but others say it's based on the two years Sittenfeld spent teaching at St. Albans School in DC. The plot deals with coming of age, self-identity, and class distinctions in the preppy and competitive atmosphere.

Reviews of Prep were mixed, with views ranging from highly laudatory to those who said that it was a well-written but weakly plotted story that was buoyed by strong detail and narration. Some saluted the book for its verisimilitude, including Elissa Schappell, who wrote in the New York Times Review of Books: "Sittenfeld's dialogue is so convincing that one wonders if she didn't wear a wire under her hockey kilt." The New York Times named Prep one of their top five works of fiction for 2005.

Less positively, a review in Publishers Weekly stated, "The book meanders on its way, light on plot, but saturated with heartbreaking humor and written in clean prose. Sittenfeld...proves herself a natural in this poignant, truthful book."

The Man of My Dreams
Sittenfeld's second novel, The Man of My Dreams (2006), follows a girl named Hannah from the end of her 8th grade year through her college years at Tufts and into her late twenties. Both in comparison to Prep and other novels, The Man of My Dreams has gathered mixed reviews with much of the same praise and criticism Prep has garnered.

American Wife
Sittenfeld's third novel, American Wife (2008), is the tale of Alice Blackwell, a fictional character who shares many similarities with former First Lady Laura Bush. Blackwell is an only child who grows up in a Democratic family. As a high school student, Blackwell kills a friend in an auto accident. She also has an illegal abortion and discovers that her grandmother is a secret lesbian. She meets, falls in love with, and marries the wild son of an elite Republican family. Her husband rises in politics to the office of president, and, although Blackwell staunchly disagrees with her husband's politics, she continues to love him.

Her fourth novel, Sisterland (2013), concerns a set of identical twins who have psychic powers, one of whom hides her strange gift while the other has become a professional psychic. Kirkus Reviews called the novel a, "rich portrait of intricate relationships within and among families by one of commercial fiction's smartest, most perceptive practitioners." (From Wikipedia. Retrieved 6/12/2013.)

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