Köenings, N.S. 1970-
Köenings, N.S. 1970-
PERSONAL: Born 1970. Education: Bryn Mawr College, B.A., 1991; Indiana University, M.F.A., Ph.D.
ADDRESSES: Office— Creative Writing Program, Hampshire College, 893 West St., Amherst, MA 01002. E-mail— [email protected]
CAREER: Writer, artist. Previously worked for Human Rights Watch; Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, visiting assistant professor of creative writing and anthropology.
The Blue Taxi (novel), Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor of short fiction to periodicals, including Story Quarterly and Glimmer Train; published her novella Setting Up Shop, as a chapbook, White Eagle Coffee Store Press, 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: N.S. Köenings has a colorful, varied background that shines through in her writing. Raised primarily in Europe and East Africa, Köenings earned her B.A. in African studies from Bryn Mawr College and a Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Indiana, where she also earned an M.F.A. in fiction. Extremely aware of culture and social climates, she has worked for Human Rights Watch and written about the political culture and occult in Zanzibar. Her novel, The Blue Taxi, takes place in a fictionalized African city such as the ones she lived in during her childhood and then later as an adult. In an interview for the Warner Books Web site, she explained: “East Africa is not, for me, a symbolic repository of ‘memories’; it’s definitely not a mythical or charmed, mysterious region of my imagination. The capital cities, the more provincial and coastal towns, and the rural areas I’ve been in, they’re just places, like wherever a person has grown up or worked or lived is just an ordinary place.” The novel is seeped in the locale, but also addresses the ways in which ordinary people’s lives connect after a small boy is hit by a bus and nearly killed. Emily Cook, in a review for Booklist, remarked that the book “is lush and charismatic yet lacks verve as it slowly plods along.” A critic for the New Yorker noted that “the characters display a frustrating inertia” or “sleep-walking quality.” Todd Pruzan, writing for New York Times Book Review, had a more positive reaction to the pace: “Köenings examines the minutiae of her endearingly flawed characters in slow motion and at high, exacting resolution.” A contributor for Publishers Weekly wrote: “The world Köenings has created in her accomplished debut is tragic and exhilarating.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Booklist, September 15, 2006, Emily Cook, review of The Blue Taxi, p. 28.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2006, review of The Blue Taxi, p. 692.
Library Journal, August 1, 2006, Leigh Anne Vrabel, review of The Blue Taxi, p. 71.
New York Times Book Review, December 31, 2006, Todd Pruzan, review of The Blue Taxi.
New Yorker, November 27, 2006, review of The Blue Taxi.
Publishers Weekly, August 7, 2006, review of The Blue Taxi, p. 29.
Compulsive Reader, http://www.compulsivereader.com/ (December 26, 2006), Brenda A. Snodgrass, review of The Blue Taxi.