PERSONAL: Education: Georgetown University, B.A; attended Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
ADDRESSES: Home—CA. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer, journalist. Washington Post, reporter on foreign desk. Assistant to Haynes Johnson, Sleepwalking through History. Tin House magazine, former editor-at-large. ESL instructor, Kenya and South Africa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Michener Grant, 1995.
An Obvious Enchantment, Random House (New York, NY), 2000.
Resurrection, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2006.
ADAPTATIONS: Resurrection was adapted for audio, Penguin Audio, 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Raised in San Francisco, California, novelist Tucker Malarkey was a journalist for the Washington Post before she decided to travel to Africa. There, she lived for a time on an island near Kenya and in South Africa, deciding to focus on fiction rather than journalism. She has put her African experiences to use in her subsequent work. An Obvious Enchantment, her debut novel of 2000, is set on a remote island off the coast of Africa. American anthropologist Ingrid Holz travels there to search for her missing professor, but along the way she encounters a group of expatriates living on the island. First, there is Finn, an American who has been raised by Swahilis and to whom Ingrid is attracted. Then there is Stanley Wicks, who has left England to try to recreate some of the splendor of his lost family home, building a hotel on the island. And there is also the professor himself, Templeton, who has gone missing while tracing the origins of Islam on Africa’s east coast. Templeton is a cipher: Ingrid and the reader never really know if he is a savior for the people or a malevolent force similar to Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
Reviewing the novel in Booklist, Bill Ott called it a “gripping story” as well as an “impressive debut.” Similar praise came from a Publishers Weekly reviewer who found it a “multifaceted, ambitious debut.”Library Journal contributor Barbara Hoffert had a less favorable impression of the same work, commenting that despite the presence of “some evocative passages,” the book struggled with pace and ultimately left the reader unsatisfied. While Richard Bernstein, writing in the New York Times Book Review, found that the novel was “far from entirely convincing,” he observed that “its virtues are distinguished enough for us to keep reading with pleasure and a sense of edification about a faraway world.” Bernstein also called this first novel “entertainingly piquant.”
Malarkey also uses an African setting for her 2006 novel, Resurrection. World War II has just concluded, and British nurse Gemma Bastian travels to Cairo to investigate the sudden death of her archaeologist father, Charles. There she finds that he has unearthed the Nag Hammadi, a papyrus that tells a very different story of Jesus Christ from the one found in the New Testament. This discovery made Charles a target for murder, and now Gemma sets out to find the perpetrator. Library Journal contributor Andrea Y. Griffith felt that Resurrection, despite its genre elements, was “more novel than thriller,” with a greater focus on character than one would usually find in works of suspense. A Kirkus Reviews critic who found the book “passable entertainment,” commented that Malarkey’s “mix of shattering scriptural revelations and skullduggery should be combustible, but the fire never catches.” Bryce Christensen, writing in Booklist, found more to like, noting that while “some readers may enjoy Malarkey’s novel simply as a literary thriller, many will find themselves wrestling with theological conundrums.” Likewise, USAToday.com reviewer Carol Memmott remarked that the author “writes deftly about spiritual discovery, and the religious history she weaves into her story gives the novel some heft.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Booklist, Bill Ott, August, 2000, review of An Obvious Enchantment, p. 2114; July 1, 2006, Bryce Christensen, review of Resurrection, p. 38.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2006, review of Resurrection, p. S6; June 1, 2006, review of Resurrection, p. 538.
Library Journal, May 15, 2000, Barbara Hoffert, review of An Obvious Enchantment, p. 125; July 1, 2006, Andrea Y. Griffith, review of Resurrection, p. 68.
New York Times Book Review, September 1, 2000, Richard Bernstein, “Mystery upon Mystery in the Shadows,” review of An Obvious Enchantment.
Publishers Weekly, June 19, 2000, review of An Obvious Enchantment, p. 58; June 5, 2006, review of Resurrection, p. 36.
Random House Web site, http://www.randomhouse.com/ (January 27, 2007), “Tucker Malarkey.”
Resurrection Web site, http://www.resurrectionthebook.com (January 27, 2007).