In Envy Country
Paperback | 9780268028886 | January 2010
Winner of the 2010 Richard Sullivan Prize in Fiction, Joan Frank’s second story collection, In Envy Country, explores the uncertainties and triumphs of women and men in and out of love and marriage, at varying ages and stages of contemporary American life. By turns wry, pained, and amused, In Envy Country investigates those small, complex truths that gain clarity with time and distance. Frank, whose earlier books have been reviewed in The New York Times Book Review and Publisher’s Weekly, sets these stories in Paris, California, and Spain.
Joan Frank is the author of five books of fiction. Her story collection In Envy Country (University of Notre Dame Press, 2010) won the Richard Sullivan Prize in Fiction and ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award for Short Stories, and was a finalist for the California Book Award. Joan is a MacDowell Colony Fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee, winner of the Dana Award, Michigan Literary Fiction Award, Iowa Writing Award, and Emrys Fiction Award, and recipient of grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, Barbara Deming Fund, and Sonoma Arts Council. She lives in northern California.
“Reading a short story by Santa Rosa author Joan Frank is like confessing a terrible secret to your best friend. You’ve got to go through the dark tunnel of truth, but there’s a light at the other end, promising comfort. And you know you’re not alone. . . . In In Envy Country, Frank limns the intricacies of contemporary relationships—men and women in and out of love and marriage—exploring their most intimate secrets from a wry distance.” ~The Press Democrat
“There is not a false note in Joan Frank’s short story collection, In Envy Country, winner of the 2010 Richard Sullivan Prize in Short Fiction from the University of Notre Dame Press. Her stories combine rapturous surface detail and harrowing psychological acuity.” ~coffeespew
“In In Envy Country, Joan Frank shows us ourselves: the way we dress and eat, the places we inhabit, the relationships we forge, squander, hang onto. More, she shows us the dark underpinnings of these solaces and daily strivings, the times we lose what is best in us, or recall it, or realize we never valued it fully enough when we had the chance. Meticulously observed, with sentences that will make you stop and go back for another look.” ~Ehud Havazelet,author of Bearing the Body and Like Never Before
“ In Envy Country by Joan Frank … tackle[s] the universal subjects of domesticity: marriage, babies, husbands, wives, meals, and work. Dirty diapers and disillusioned homemakers still exist; however, housewifery clichés do not. . . . Frank explore[s] the complexities of human emotion and action with humor, nuance, and acuity, using slightly unconventional narrative constructs.” ~American Book Review
“The uneasy balance of power between male and female binds this sharp collection of stories . . . Frank works every aspect of these feminist stories with relentless energy, and readers will be sure to pay attention.” ~ Publishers Weekly
“Literary short story lovers who admire the complex seamless architecture of a muscular sentence will find much to approve in Joan Frank’s collection, In Envy Country. But the author’s precise and artful prose is there to perform a duty; it’s a steadfast craft for a cast of wildly mottled characters. The seas are never calm, and when they momentarily appear so, Frank reveals the outlines of what hovers below. These nine stories, on their face about what is observed, in close-up reveal that what is left undetected, undone, and unimagined is what resonates. . .”. ~ForeWord Magazine
“These stories each have a wonderful, intimate feel, as though the narrator is whispering in our ear at the start of each one, ‘You won’t believe what I heard.’ Written with authority and intelligence, they are layered and subtle, and we believe them all, gaining a new appreciation for the idea that what appears to be one thing—is many others. They are serious, and yet take us back to the sense of discovery; reading them is fun.” ~Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge and Abide with Me
“A worldly collection in all the best ways; a writer of unusual wit, sophistication and psychological insight; reading these pages is a pleasure.” ~Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street
“Admirers of the work of Anita Brookner will rejoice to discover an American literary cousin. Nothing escapes Joan Frank; her stories of not-so-innocent bystanders gleam with subtlety, intelligence, and sly wit.” ~Brian Morton, author of Breakable You and Starting Out in the Evening
“Bay Area writer Joan Frank’s fourth work of fiction, the very readable new collection In Envy Country . . . offers the pleasures of a gossipy chat with an astute and clever friend. This friend also has a dark wit, a playful way with language and imagery and does not suffer fools gladly. . . . Joan Frank is a shrewd and, yes, frank observer both of people with money and people wanting it. Her sharp portraits and original way with words make these stories surprising and rewarding.” ~San Francisco Chronicle
“The stories in Joan Frank’s collection, In Envy Country, are bitingly ironic, provocative scenes of contemporary life, so complete that they will satisfy readers who typically grab 400-page novels. . . . These stories . . . are powerfully connected in content and tone, since each is reflected through an observing narrator, always a woman, who ponders the complexities of life around her. . . . The art of these stories is in their telling, and even in the saddest of them, Frank hits precisely the right note. . . .Telling a story is an act of faith. And Joan Frank, a perceptive, funny, and wise onlooker, skillfully reminds us that our job as readers is to pay attention.” ~The Boston Globe