Education: Cornell University, M.F.A., 1997.
Writer and novelist. Harcourt (publisher), New York, NY, publicity director.
Golden Country (novel), Scribner (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to anthologies, including The Friend Who Got Away, Doubleday (New York, NY); Eight Nights, Algonquin (New York, NY); and Bad Girls: Twenty-five Writers Misbehave, Norton (New York, NY). Contributor to periodicals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Biography, Epoch, BookForum, Nerve, Allure, and Salon.com.
Jennifer Gilmore knew the inside workings of the publishing industry before she sold her first novel, Golden Country. A publicity director for noted publisher Harcourt, she was well aware of "just how much work is involved in transforming a good idea into a finished book, yet she went for it anyway," commented BookPage interviewer Amy Scribner. "Being on both sides is actually quite difficult," Gilmore told Scribner. "You know everything that can go wrong, and you know all a publisher can do to help a book."
In Golden Country, Gilmore traces the various ups and downs in the lives of three generations of Jewish immigrants as they pursue success and happiness in the middle of the twentieth century. The novel opens with the engagement of young immigrants Miriam Brodsky and David Bloom. Their families have known each other since arriving in America on Ellis Island, but the engagement sparks a variety of reactions from other members of the two families. Gilmore follows the intermingled fates of the Brodskys and the Blooms from the engagement in the 1920s to the 1960s. During the Prohibition era, the Brodsky family is disgraced when older brother Solomon becomes a bootlegger and gangster. In contrast, younger brother Joseph marries a lawyer's daughter and makes a living selling cleaning products. When the ambitious Joseph creates a revolutionary new cleaning solution, his fortune is assured. When Solomon runs off with beautiful neighbor Pauline Verdonik, her younger sister Frances is left behind to care for their parents. Frances longs to be an actress. When she happily marries scientist and inventor Vladimir Zworykin, she tries unsuccessfully to get Solomon and Joseph Brodsky to subsidize his invention, a prototype of the first television camera. Meanwhile, mobster Seymour Bloom invests in early television technology and renounces his criminal past in order to pursue dreams of becoming a Broadway producer, even though his reputation will consistently hinder his efforts. As America grows and develops under consistent immigration and technological development in the media, Gilmore depicts the effects these advances have on her characters and on American society at large.
"In an overstuffed plot studded with historical minutiae, the story's small domestic and internal moments are what ring true," observed a Kirkus Reviews critic. Gilmore "vividly renders the lives" of the two immigrant families while they "experience both the bright and shadowy sides of the American dream," commented Allison Block in Booklist. Library Journal reviewer Eleanor J. Bader called Gilmore's work a "memorable and often powerful book," while a Publishers Weekly contributor concluded: "Talented and compassionate, Gilmore is a writer to watch."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July 1, 2006, Allison Block, review of Golden Country, p. 30.
Entertainment Weekly, September 8, 2006, Anat Rosenberg, review of Golden Country, p. 164.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2006, review of Golden Country, p. 647.
Library Journal, August 1, 2006, Eleanor J. Bader, review of Golden Country, p. 70.
People, September 11, 2006, Liza Nelson, review of Golden Country, p. 55.
Publishers Weekly, May 1, 2006, review of Golden Country, p. 31.
Vanity Fair, September, 2006, Elissa Schappell, "Gilmore Girl," review of Golden Country, p. 196.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (December 20, 2006), Amy Scribner, "Publishing Insider's Compelling Debut," interview with Jennifer Gilmore.