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Susan Jane Gilman

Susan Jane Gilman, whose reviews and commentaries can be heard regularly on All Things Considered, is a journalist, fiction writer and bestselling author of three nonfiction books: Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a SmartMouth Goddess and, most recently, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, a memoir about a naive and disastrous trek Gilman made through Communist China in 1986.

Gilman has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Ms., Us, The Village Voice, The New York Observer and Real Simple, among others.

Her short fiction has appeared in Story, Ploughshares, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Virginia Quarterly Review and The Greensboro Review, which awarded her its 1997 Literary Award. Gilman has received other awards as well, including a New York Press Association Award for articles she wrote on assignment in Poland as a cub reporter in 1990. She earned a BA in Literature from Brown University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan.

Gilman currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland, where she co-hosts Bookmark, a monthly book review show on World Radio Switzerland, the national English-language station. The rest of her time is spent writing, or as she puts it, staring catatonically at a blinking cursor. She also writes a humorous travel blog A View from A Broad.

  • Reviewer Susan Jane Gilman wasn't impressed by the title of Someone, but she says Alice McDermott's novel is nowhere near as generic as its name. Nothing extraordinary happens to the Irish-American protagonist, but with spare poetry and deep compassion, McDermott makes familiar territory seem new.
  • Sheri Fink's Five Days At Memorial, describes the horrific conditions at a New Orleans hospital shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Facing floodwaters and corporate mismanagement, some staffers euthanized sick patients. Fink's judgment of those actions is admirably — and frustratingly — nuanced.
  • Susan Jane Gilman recommends behind-the-scenes reads about the rich and famous — by a rock star, a hotel concierge, a stuntman and a Brat Packer, all offering backstage passes to their glamorous lives. Entertaining and star-studded, they make for perfect holiday escapism — with a cocktail (or two) in hand.
  • Is there anything fresh to be found in a food memoir? Reviewer Susan Jane Gilman says yes — and to prove it, she recommends five excellent books that will quench your desire for amazing food and adventure this summer.
  • If celebrity tell-all books are the snack food of the literary world, author Susan Jane Gilman has been on a binge this year. Her picks — from various ranks of the pop-culture pantheon — may not be the proudest additions to your bookshelf, but they may be among the most amusing.
  • We know technology is taking over our lives — but is it taking on a life of its own? In his new book, Kevin Kelly says technology is an extension of the human body — not "of our genes, but of our minds."
  • In her new book about bad behavior, Laura Kipnis explores why we can't look away when a public drama unfolds. But critic Susan Jane Gilman says her approach is a bit too timid for such a titillating topic.
  • Sebastian Mallaby's book is an expert primer on hedge funds — the "Ferraris of finance" — and a detailed portrait of Wall Street's daredevils. Reviewer Susan Jane Gilman says More Money Than God is illuminating ... and infuriating.
  • Tara Parker-Pope's new book, For Better, offers a scientific perspective on maintaining a good relationship post-nuptials. While reviewer Susan Jane Gilman says Parker-Pope gives an interesting look on the science behind couple dynamics, much of the information comes from a story we've all heard before.
  • David Remnick has a nearly impossible task in his new biography of Barack Obama: writing "the most complete account yet" of the most famous man on the planet. The well-written and well-researched book may be ahead of its time; the events in it are so familiar right now that its scholarship may resonate better in 20 years.