Kate Tuttle

Writer & Critic

Kate Tuttle

Writing on books and authors, race and politics, family and childhood.


How the book industry is weathering the COVID-19 storm

Publishing in a pandemic has meant selling online, delivering curbside, touring virtually, being OK with delays, and ‘reinventing the wheel every day’. “In the best of all possible worlds, launching a book is chaos,” said local mystery writer Hank Phillippi Ryan, whose 12th book, “The First to Lie,” came out last month.
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Q&A: America is failing us, but we still can save the day

Author Jared Yates Sexton fears the worst about the nation’s political upheaval, yet he won’t give in to ‘dread and demoralization.’. Jared Yates Sexton is a professor of creative writing at Georgia Southern University who had three short story collections under his belt when he started writing seriously about politics — especially the Trump rallies he attended during the 2016 campaign.
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‘Sigh, Gone’ memoir blends books, punk, and a refugee’s fight to fit in

Phuc Tran normally teaches Latin and Greek to high school students, but in the era of COVID-19 he finds himself teaching kindergarten and 3rd grade to his own children. “I think the student evaluations are not going to be kind,” he said with a laugh. Tran, who lives in Portland, Maine, is also a tattoo artist.
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A curious case of mass hysteria

Clare Beams worked on her debut novel for seven years. It began with the image of a pastoral New England landscape, something like the bucolic beauty of Fruitlands, where Louisa May Alcott’s father built a failed utopian community in the 19th century. And then a flash of the unexpected: a startling red bird, “a little bit too brightly colored to be where it is,” Beams said. “I also knew that I wanted there to be a school.”
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Sarah DiGregorio’s history of premature birth shows promising developments

When Sarah DiGregorio gave birth to her daughter, Mira, at 28 weeks’ gestation, the baby weighed just one pound, thirteen ounces. She spent nearly two months in the NICU, but she survived — today, Mira’s a happy, healthy kindergartener, “funny and sharp and inquisitive,” DiGregorio said. It wasn’t until a year after her daughter’s birth that DiGregorio, a journalist whose previous work mostly revolved around food writing, sat down to write about it.
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Author Craig Fehrman stacks up books penned by presidents

Craig Fehrman’s “Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote” starts with the very beginning of the country. The result of a decade’s worth of digging in libraries and archives, the book surveys two centuries of presidential authorship. “What I immediately realized was that this story was so much older than you could have expected,” Fehrman said.
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In Meng Jin’s ‘Little Gods,’ the inescapable pull of a family history

Meng Jin’s debut novel begins with a scene inspired by her own life. “I was born in the spring of 1989 in China,” she said, “and my father told me when I was a child that if it weren’t for the fact that I had just been born, he would have been in Beijing protesting with the students.”. In the book, “Little Gods,” a baby is born the night of June 4, 1989, as the tanks roll in to Tiananmen Square and her father disappears.
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Peggy Orenstein on birds, bees, and boys

As soon as journalist Peggy Orenstein finished 2016’s “Girls and Sex,” friends suggested she write a follow-up volume about boys. She resisted. “I kept saying no, that’s really somebody else’s job. I don’t want to do that,” Orenstein said. “And I think part of it was fear that they wouldn’t talk to me.”.
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Ibram X. Kendi explores why ‘not racist’ doesn’t equal ‘anti-racist’

Kendi starts his book “How to Be an Antiracist” in 2000, when he was a high school senior delivering a speech in an oratorical contest. “The ideas that I shared in that speech were racist,” Kendi said. “That speech that I gave while in high school was probably the clearest indication of just how many anti-black racist ideas I had consumed.”.
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In ‘Trick Mirror,’ the face of a major new talent

Back when she was 16, Jia Tolentino appeared on a reality television show called “Girls v. Boys: Puerto Rico,” in which a group of eight teenagers were set against each other to compete in a series of tasks in pursuit of a large cash prize. This was the fourth season of a show that began airing in 2003 — “the heyday of reality television,” Tolentino writes, “a relatively innocent time, before the bleak long trail of the industry had revealed itself.”.
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On the braided history of schools and courts

For Justin Driver, his book’s topic is personal. “I grew up in Southeast DC, in the less privileged segment of Washington,” said Driver, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. His parents, who stressed educational achievement, enrolled him in a better public school far from their own struggling neighborhood.
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Review of Stephanie Land's Maid

“My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter,” writes Stephanie Land. It’s a devastating opening line to Land’s memoir of poverty, parenting, and survival. The sentence will jar readers — it did me — and at the same time it raises the question: Just what does it look like to live in a homeless shelter with your infant?
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Kate Tuttle

I'm on the executive board of the National Book Critics Circle. My reviews and articles about books have appeared in the Boston Globe, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Salon,, and elsewhere. Native Kansan, longtime Cantabrigian, lately of Georgia, now in New Jersey. Mother, wife, pal.

Feel free to email me at