Karen Joy Fowler

Literary Birthday – 7 February – Karen Joy Fowler

Happy Birthday, Karen Joy Fowler, born 7 February 1950.


  1. When I run the world, librarians will be exempt from tragedy. Even their smaller sorrows will last only for as long as you can take out a book.
  2. Let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter.
  3. The happening and telling are very different things. This doesn’t mean that the story isn’t true, only that I honestly don’t know anymore if I really remember it or only remember how to tell it. Language does this to our memories, simplifies, solidifies, codifies, mummifies. An off-told story is like a photograph in a family album. Eventually it replaces the moment it was meant to capture.
  4. Arriving late was a way of saying that your own time was more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you.
  5. Each of us has a private Austen.
  6. The spoken word converts individual knowledge into mutual knowledge, and there is no way back once you’ve gone over that cliff. Saying nothing was more amendable, and over time I’d come to see that it was usually your best course of action.
  7. There was something appealing in thinking of a character with a secret life that her author knew nothing about. Slipping off while the author’s back was turned, to find love in her own way. Showing up just in time to deliver the next bit of dialogue with an innocent face.
  8. The process of writing a book is so removed in my mind from the process of publishing it that I often forget for great stretches that I eventually hope to do the latter.
  9. The smart way to build a literary career is you create an identifiable product, then reliably produce that product so people know what they are going to get. That’s the smart way to build a career, but not the fun way. Maybe you can think about being less successful and happier. That’s an option, too.
  10. In everyone’s life there are people who stay and people who go and people who are taken against their will.

Karen Joy Fowler is an American author of science fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. After attending a creative writing course in 1986, she published her first stories, a science fiction collection called Artificial Things. Her work mostly centres on the lives of women. She is best known as the author of The Jane Austen Book Club, which was made into a movie of the same name, and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Source for quotes
Source for photo: Photo credit: Kristen Murakoshi Photography

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 7th February 2018