Favorite Books 2010 asks NPR personalities to write about one book from the past year that they loved. NPR special correspondent Susan Stamberg asked for special permission to recommend a book from a previous year. What could we say?
In 2010 I caught up with this astonishing, powerful book. The story is told in scraps — 13 short and middle-sized and longish chapters. In some, the title character barely appears beyond a single sentence. Yet by the end you feel you know everyone who lives in her small town in Maine, and that you can smell the air and taste the endurance.
Olive is a difficult, snappish woman — an unusual protagonist. She clumps through life on tactless shoes. Underneath her aging lumpy body and gruff demeanor, you just feel how much she is longing for connection. The book, which won the fiction Pulitzer in 2009, is a triumph of structure and precision. The achievement of a marvelously talented writer.
Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout, paperback, 304 pages, Random HouseRandom House