Elizabeth Gilbert’s travel memoir Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia has had worldwide success, and is now published in over 30 languages, with more than 7 million copies in print. Her debut novel, Stern Men, reissued by Penguin Books in February 2009, focuses on two remote islands off the coast of Maine, where the local lobstermen have fought savagely for generations over the fishing rights to the ocean waters between them. Ruth Thomas, born into this feud, is now eighteen years old, smart as a whip, and irredeemably unromantic. She returns home from school, determined to throw her education overboard and join the “stern men” who work the lobster boats, only to find herself in the role of a very modern Juliet with a very unexpected Romeo.
“Finding an Austen heroine in a lobster boat — an irreverent and observant young woman, reeking of bait — is one of the many delights to be delivered by Elizabeth Gilbert in Stern Men, her beautifully wrought and very funny first novel.” —Mirabella
Elizabeth Gilbert broke onto the literary scene in 1993 when one of her short stories was pulled from the slush pile at Esquire Magazine and published under the heading “The debut of an American Writer”. Her first book, a short story collection titled Pilgrims, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award.
The Last American Man, her biography of mountain man Eustace Conway, was a National Book Award finalist. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, she has also worked as a writer at GQ. Her journalism has been published in Harper’s Bazaar, Spin, and The New York Times Magazine. Her stories have appeared in Esquire, Story and The Paris Review.
Elizabeth Gilbert was interviewed by ZZ Packer, a writer widely recognized for her short fiction. ZZ was born in Chicago and raised in Atlanta and Louisville. She is a 1990 graduate of Seneca High School in Louisville.
Her short-story collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, was included in the New Yorker’s Debut Fiction issue in 2000, was a New York Times Notable Book, won a Commonwealth Club Fiction Award, received an Alex Award, and was a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist. She has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Packer’s work has also appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, Zoetrope, Seventeen, Harper’s, The Best American Short Stories, New York Times Magazine, Ploughshares, New York Times Book Review, and Salon. Her work has also been anthologized in 25 and Under: Fiction.
Soon after its 2003 publication, ZZ Packer’s story collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, was personally recommended by John Updike for the “Today Show” Book Club. In 2008 she edited the annual New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best. She is currently writing the novel The Thousands.