Jane Smiley is famous for writing novels that are a product of her curiosity and exacting research rather than any particular inward-looking angst.

I confess, there was a time when I considered that a reason to resist her work, imagining she might also be stingy with emotional risk; I think of reading a novel in which the author hasn’t tapped into an infinite spectrum of feeling as an exercise that’s about as convivial as going on a date with someone who spends the whole evening on his cell phone.

I think of, for example, Arthur Golden’s well researched but to my mind overrated 1999 novel Memoirs of a Geisha, which felt more like a clever thesis in cultural studies than a novel. But as for Smiley, I tried one novel, then another and then another. I was hooked.

Read the full article in Neworld Review