Virginia Holman biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Virginia Holman
Photo: simonandschuster.com

Virginia Holman

Virginia Holman Biography

Virginia Holman is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Roslynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship, and a North Carolina Arts Council grant. Rescuing Patty Hearst won the 2003 Outstanding Literature Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, where she is at work on a novel.



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Interview

Amongst many things, Virginia Holman describes what it is likely living with somebody who is mentally ill and why it took her so long to find the words and courage to write the autobiography of her own childhood in Rescuing Patty Hearst.

A piece of Rescuing Patty Hearst was originally published in DoubleTake and won a Pushcart Prize. Can you describe how you came to expand the essay into a full-length work?
I had probably been working on telling this story in everything I had written since I began writing. I was engaged off and on for a number of years writing a novel based on these experiences—but this story refused to work as fiction for me, despite the fact that many first novels are near pure autobiography. I am cursed with a perhaps unfortunate amount of earnestness. When I first spoke with the woman who would later become my agent she asked if I had ever considered writing this material as nonfiction and I said "Absolutely not! I couldn’t do that. Especially to my family." I felt it would be some sort of betrayal to tell some of our secrets. But soon after that conversation I began writing short essays about my experiences and—with great fear—showing them to my family.

I suppose deep down I thought that I'd be cast out, but instead they were immensely kind and supportive of the endeavor. And that's why the book exists. I could never have published this book—there’s so much pain and exposure involved ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Virginia Holman at BookBrowse
Rescuing Patty Hearst jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Virginia Holman but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Lucy Grealy

    Lucy Grealy

    Lucy Grealy (1963-2002) was born in Dublin, Ireland. She moved to Spring Valley, New York, with her family when she was four years old. When she was nine she was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma.  Surgery to remove... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Rescuing Patty Hearst

    Try:
    Autobiography of a Face
    by Lucy Grealy

  • Sarah Hannah

    Sarah Hannah

    Sarah Hannah received a B.A. from Wesleyan University, an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. Her poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Parnassus, Agni, Rattapallax, Western Humanities Review, New Millennium ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Rescuing Patty Hearst

    Try:
    Inflorescence
    by Sarah Hannah

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