Kelby, N(icole) M.
KELBY, N(icole) M.
KMSP-TV, Minneapolis, reporter and newscaster; print reporter.
Pirate's Alley Faulkner Prize finalist, 1998, for In the Company of Angels; Heekin Group Foundation's James Fellowship for the Novel in Progress, 1999; Bush Artist Fellowship in Literature, 1999; Loft's Mentor Series, fiction winner; Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship; Jerome Travel Study Grant; Jewish Arts Endowment Fellowship.
In the Company of Angels, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.
Theater of the Stars: A Novel of Physics and Memory, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.
Author of poems and plays in addition to novels and short stories. Her poems and short stories have appeared in more than fifty journals, including Zoetrope: All Stories Extra, the Mississippi Review, and the anthology Concert at Chopin's House (New River Press).
N. M. Kelby was working as a broadcast journalist in Minneapolis and writing poems and plays in her spare time when her father was hit by a car and killed while standing in front of his home. The sudden loss delievered a spiritual shock to Kelby, spurring her to leave her day job and devote herself full time to writing.
Her first book, In the Company of Angels, began as a 300-page graduate thesis and later a 90-page version debuted on the Zoetrope online writing workshop. Though small, the novella goes after the big questions: mortality, God, love, and as Kelby told a writer for Wordsworth.com, "dark moments of salvation that evoke both terror and grace." Set in France and Belgium during World War II, the story follows a young Jewish girl who is rescued from her destroyed village by a pair of nuns. The girl's presence back in the nun's convent is accompanied by odd happenings; events and signs perhaps angelic, perhaps miraculous. Sharon Schultz-Elsing of the Curled Up with a Good Book Web site described Kelby's prose as having "the hypnotic rhythm of the dream state and the immediacy of well-worked short fiction." In the Company of Angels is "an exquisite book," Schultz-Elsing said, "rich with the scent of flowers and chocolate, painfully full of unexpressed love, simple grief and quiet wonder." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly was impressed by Kelby's "flashes of sensual detail" and the "spare, elliptical prose [that … infuses] the emotionally and spiritually loaded subject matter with an uncommon intimacy."
Kelby's second book, Theater of the Stars: A Novel of Physics and Memory, is set admidst the mysteries of science rather than faith, but mined similar spiritual themes of love and loss. The novel centers on astrophysicist Lucienne Kundera whose success in discovering a black hole is offset by a failing marriage and nagging questions about her mother—a physicist at Los Alamos during World War II—and the father she never knew. A Kirkus Reviews critic felt Theater of the Stars was "an improbable tale …, but thoroughly likeable nevertheless, with a light touch and a rich collection of vivid (sometimes horribly so) characters." Donna Seaman of Booklist found it to be an "elegant, spellbinding, and ingenious tale" and a "radioactive spider web of a novel … as psychologically loaded as it is suspenseful."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlantic Monthly, May, 2001, review of In the Company of Angels, p. 122.
Booklist, July, 2003, Donna Seaman, review of Theater of the Stars: A Novel of Physics and Memory. p. 1865.
Kirkus Reviews: May 15, 2003, review of Theater of the Stars, p. 704.
Publishers Weekly, February 26, 2001, review of In the Company of Angels, p. 56.
Book Reporter,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (June 11, 2001), author biography and review of In the Company of Angels.
Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (June 11, 2001), Sharon Schultz-Elsing, review of In the Company of Angels.
Hyperion Books,http://www.hyperionbooks.com/ (September 6, 2003), author biography and book descriptions.
Wordsworth,http://www.wordsworth.com/ (September 6, 2003), author biography and author's statement.*