Kate Walbert biography

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Kate Walbert
© Deborah Donenfeld

Kate Walbert

Kate Walbert Biography

Kate Walbert was born in New York City and raised in Georgia, Texas, Japan and Pennsylvania, among other places. She is the author of the novels The Sunken Cathedral, among the San Francisco Chronicle's best books of 2015; A Short History of Women, chosen by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2009 and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize; Our Kind, a finalist for the National Book Award, and The Gardens of Kyoto, as well as the linked stories, Where She Went. She's received a National Endowment for the Arts fiction fellowship, a Connecticut Commission on the Arts fiction fellowship, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library, and her stories has been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize stories.

Kate Walbert's website

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Interview

Kate Walbert shares about her initial inspiration for The Gardens of Kyoto and how it expanded from a short story to a novel.

What was your initial inspiration for The Gardens of Kyoto?
My father's cousin, Charles Webster, was killed on Iwo Jima during what they called a "mopping up" operation -- essentially after the battle had been won. Charles was the only son of his beloved Aunt Maude, and they lived just a mile or so down the road from the land my father's family farmed on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. My father had been quite close to his cousin, his own brothers off fighting in Europe, but he never spoke of him to us except to describe the day Aunt Maude received the telegram announcing Charles' death. It was a single image, really, not a story at all. He simply recalled how Aunt Maude came and sat with his own mother at the kitchen table. The image stuck with me -- two silent women at the table, one with sons in battle in Europe, the other with a son dead in the Pacific -- and I supposed I wrote the initial story to try to give voice to that image.

You originally wrote The Gardens of Kyoto as a short story? How did you come to expand it into a novel?
The voice of the story surprised me. The narrator wasn't my father at all, but a woman of my mother's generation who had lost her cousin on Iwo Jima, a woman ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Kate Walbert at BookBrowse
His Favorites jacket The Sunken Cathedral jacket A Short History of Women jacket Our Kind jacket
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