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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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The Transcriptionist

by

The Transcriptionist Cover

ISBN13: 9781616202545
ISBN10: 1616202548
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

No one can find it. That's the first thing. The Recording Room is on the eleventh floor, at the end of a rat-hued hallway that some workers at the newspaper have never seen; they give up on the ancient elevator, which makes only local stops with loud creaks of protest. Like New Yorkers who refuse to venture above Fourteenth Street, there are newspaper workers who refuse to go above the fourth floor for fear of being lost forever if they leave the well-lit newsroom for dark floors unknown.

In this room you'll find Lena. She works as a transcriptionist for the Record, a behemoth New York City newspaper. There once were many transcriptionists at the Record, but new technology and the ease of communication has put most of them out of work, so now Lena sits alone in a room on the building's eleventh floor, far away from the hum of the newsroom that is the heart of the paper. Still, it is an important job--vital, really--a vein that connects the organs of the paper, and Lena takes it very seriously.

And then one day she encounters something that shatters the reverie that has become her life--an article in the paper about a woman mauled to death by lions in the city zoo. The woman was blind and remains unidentified, but there is a picture, and Lena recognizes her as someone whom a few days before she had met and talked to briefly while riding home on a midtown bus.

Obsessed with understanding what caused the woman to climb into the lion's den, Lena begins a campaign for truth that will ultimately destroy the Record's complacency and shake the venerable institution to its very foundation. In the process she finds a new set of truths that gives her the strength to shed what she describes as her "secondhand life" and to embrace a future filled with promise, maybe even adventure.

An exquisite novel that asks probing questions about journalism and ethics, about the decline of the newspaper and the failure of language, The Transcriptionist is also the story of a woman's effort to establish a place for herself in an increasingly alien and alienating world.

Review:

"New York Times veteran Rowland treads familiar ground (familiar to her, at least) in her debut novel, set primarily amid the remote offices of Record, a fictional newspaper. Lena is the newspaper's sole remaining transcriptionist, her job having been made nearly redundant by technology. Lonely and prone to melancholy, she is haunted both by the words that are edited out of her transcribed stories prior to publication, and by her childhood fear of mountain lions. Both preoccupations come to a head after a blind woman, with whom Lena had a brief encounter, is found mauled to death in the Bronx Zoo's lion exhibit. Lena's identification with the dead woman verges on obsession as she researches the woman's life and death. Rowland's farcical approach (for example, Lena finds mental safety in periodically donning the biohazard escape hood that she was given by the newspaper) is balanced by the novel's realistic insights into journalistic integrity, the evolution of contemporary newspaper publishing, and, more broadly, the importance of genuine communication. 'Listening,' notes Lena, 'helps us recognize our absurdity, our humanity.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

"A haunting and provocative novel about the mysteries of life and a death, the written word, things seen and unseen, heard and forgotten. Amy Rowland's writing is compelling and masterful." --Delia Ephron, author of The Lion Is In

Once, there were many transcriptionists at the Record, a behemoth New York City newspaper, but new technology and the ease of communication has put most of them out of work. So now Lena, the last transcriptionist, sits alone in a room--a human conduit, silently turning reporters' recorded stories into print--until the day she encounters a story so shocking that it shatters the reverie that has become her life.

This exquisite novel, written by a woman who spent more than a decade as a transcriptionist at the New York Times, asks probing questions about journalism and ethics, about the decline of the newspaper and the failure of language. It is also the story of a woman's effort to establish her place in an increasingly alien and alienating world.

"A strange, mesmerizing novel about language, isolation, ethics, technology, and the lack of trust between institutions and the people they purportedly serve . . . A fine debut novel about the decline of newspapers and the subsequent loss of humanity--and yes, these are related." --Booklist, starred review

"Ambitious and fascinating . . . Disturbing and powerful . . . Recommended for fans of literary fiction." --Library Journal

"Rowland's farcical approach . . . is balanced by the novel's realistic insights into journalistic integrity, the evolution of contemporary newspaper publishing, and, more broadly, the importance of genuine communication." --Publishers Weekly

"Unforgettable. Written with such delight, compassion, and humanity, it's newsworthy." --Alex Gilvarry, author of From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant

Synopsis:

The Transcriptionist is a masterpiece . . .

. . . Sly and humane and with a delicate touch of surrealism.” —Haven Kimmel, author of Iodine and A Girl Named Zippy

“Unforgettable. Written with such delight, compassion, and humanity, it’s newsworthy. Amy Rowland is the debut of the year.” —Alex Gilvarry, author of From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant

“What a laser-sharp eye Amy Rowland has! From her perch in the most out-of-the-way nook at the world’s most powerful paper, her heroine seems to be able to take in the whole world. This first novel is wise, beautifullywritten, with just the right amount of wickedness.” —James Magnuson, author of Famous Writers I Have Known

“This haunting, beautiful book . . . proves that language can make us whole.” —Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat and Other Stories

About the Author

Amy Rowland has spent more than a decade at the New York Times, where she worked, notably, as a transcriptionist before moving to the Book Review. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Smart Set, and the Utne Reader. She lives in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Karen Rush, June 27, 2014 (view all comments by Karen Rush)
Once upon a time, I worked in a profession that involved transcribing depositions and legal documents so when I saw the title, I just had to read it. While the 4th floor newsroom of a large New York City newspaper is abuzz with activity, our protagonist Lena takes the creaky old elevator up to her lonely space The Recording Room on the 11th floor. Day after day she sits alone transcribing news stories. Her only consistent companion with whom she carries on one-sided conversations is a pigeon who perches outside her window. Hers is a career on the brink of extinction. Words are a huge part of her self, totally absorbing her. Even during sleep ��" her brain doesn’t rest. When Lena comes across a story about a blind woman who entered a zoo’s lions den and was mauled to death, she recognizes the woman as someone who she sat next to on a bus and carried on a brief but memorable conversation just days before. Lena becomes obsessed with the reported details of the case and begins her own quest to find out what really happened to this mysterious woman, challenging the journalistic institution and its principles. Written by a woman who spent a number of years as a transcriptionist at the New York Times, the story is insightful. It is a subtle and steady book and an impressive debut.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781616202545
Author:
Rowland, Amy
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Author:
Rowland Amy
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Psychological
Subject:
Fiction : General
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20140531
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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The Transcriptionist New Hardcover
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Product details 256 pages Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill - English 9781616202545 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "New York Times veteran Rowland treads familiar ground (familiar to her, at least) in her debut novel, set primarily amid the remote offices of Record, a fictional newspaper. Lena is the newspaper's sole remaining transcriptionist, her job having been made nearly redundant by technology. Lonely and prone to melancholy, she is haunted both by the words that are edited out of her transcribed stories prior to publication, and by her childhood fear of mountain lions. Both preoccupations come to a head after a blind woman, with whom Lena had a brief encounter, is found mauled to death in the Bronx Zoo's lion exhibit. Lena's identification with the dead woman verges on obsession as she researches the woman's life and death. Rowland's farcical approach (for example, Lena finds mental safety in periodically donning the biohazard escape hood that she was given by the newspaper) is balanced by the novel's realistic insights into journalistic integrity, the evolution of contemporary newspaper publishing, and, more broadly, the importance of genuine communication. 'Listening,' notes Lena, 'helps us recognize our absurdity, our humanity.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by ,

"A haunting and provocative novel about the mysteries of life and a death, the written word, things seen and unseen, heard and forgotten. Amy Rowland's writing is compelling and masterful." --Delia Ephron, author of The Lion Is In

Once, there were many transcriptionists at the Record, a behemoth New York City newspaper, but new technology and the ease of communication has put most of them out of work. So now Lena, the last transcriptionist, sits alone in a room--a human conduit, silently turning reporters' recorded stories into print--until the day she encounters a story so shocking that it shatters the reverie that has become her life.

This exquisite novel, written by a woman who spent more than a decade as a transcriptionist at the New York Times, asks probing questions about journalism and ethics, about the decline of the newspaper and the failure of language. It is also the story of a woman's effort to establish her place in an increasingly alien and alienating world.

"A strange, mesmerizing novel about language, isolation, ethics, technology, and the lack of trust between institutions and the people they purportedly serve . . . A fine debut novel about the decline of newspapers and the subsequent loss of humanity--and yes, these are related." --Booklist, starred review

"Ambitious and fascinating . . . Disturbing and powerful . . . Recommended for fans of literary fiction." --Library Journal

"Rowland's farcical approach . . . is balanced by the novel's realistic insights into journalistic integrity, the evolution of contemporary newspaper publishing, and, more broadly, the importance of genuine communication." --Publishers Weekly

"Unforgettable. Written with such delight, compassion, and humanity, it's newsworthy." --Alex Gilvarry, author of From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant

"Synopsis" by ,

The Transcriptionist is a masterpiece . . .

. . . Sly and humane and with a delicate touch of surrealism.” —Haven Kimmel, author of Iodine and A Girl Named Zippy

“Unforgettable. Written with such delight, compassion, and humanity, it’s newsworthy. Amy Rowland is the debut of the year.” —Alex Gilvarry, author of From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant

“What a laser-sharp eye Amy Rowland has! From her perch in the most out-of-the-way nook at the world’s most powerful paper, her heroine seems to be able to take in the whole world. This first novel is wise, beautifullywritten, with just the right amount of wickedness.” —James Magnuson, author of Famous Writers I Have Known

“This haunting, beautiful book . . . proves that language can make us whole.” —Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat and Other Stories

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