Scott, Joanna Catherine 1943-

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SCOTT, Joanna Catherine 1943-

(Joanna C. Scott)


Born 1943, in London, England; married; children: three. Education: University of Adelaide, B.A.; Duke University, M.A. (philosophy).


Home—Chapel Hill, NC. Agent—Miriam Altshuler, Miriam Altshuler Literary Agency, 53 Old Post Road North, Red Hook, NY 12571.


Novelist and poet. Previously worked as tutor of formal logic and British analytic philosophy at University of Western Australia, Crawley; consultant for nuclear electric industry. Sponsor of the Joanna Catherine Scott Award for Formal Poetry, North Carolina Poetry Society; and Joanna Catherine Scott Novel Excerpt Prize, PEN/Nob Hill.


North Carolina Poet Laureate Award, 2002; Longleaf Poetry Award, for Birth Mother; Acorn-Rukeyser Award, for Coming down from Bataan; Capricorn Award, for New Jerusalem; Americas Review Prize for Social Poetry; PEN/Nob Hill Poetry Prize; Black Zinnias Poetry Book Award, for Breakfast at the Shangri-La.


(Under name Joanna C. Scott) Indochina's Refugees: Oral Histories from Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, McFarland and Company (Jefferson, NC), 1989.

(Under name Joanna C. Scott) Charlie and the Children (novel), Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 1997.

The Lucky Gourd Shop (novel), MacMurray and Beck (Denver, CO), 2000.

Birth Mother (poetry), Longleaf Press (Fayetteville, NC), 2000.

Coming down from Bataan (poetry), Unfinished Monument Press (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada), 2000.

Pursuing Pauline, Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 2004.

Cassandra, Lost (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Breakfast at the Shangri-La (poetry), California Institute of Arts and Letters (Palo Alto, CA), 2005.

Also author of poetry collection New Jerusalem; contributor to periodicals, including Georgia State University Review, Literal Latté, and Crucible.


Born in London, England, author Joanna Catherine Scott was raised in Australia. She met her husband when she was serving as a tutor in logic and analytic philosophy at the University of Western Australia, where he was a visiting graduate student. When he returned to Duke University to complete his Ph.D., Scott gave up her scholarship to Oxford University and accompanied him. After earning her M.A. in philosophy at Duke, she took a job working as a consultant in the nuclear electric industry as a writer.

Scott wrote her first book, Indochina's Refugees: Oral Histories from Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, during the 1980s, when her husband's job as ambassador to the Asian Development Bank took them to the Philippines. Before they returned to the United States, they adopted three Korean orphans whose experiences are reflected in Scott's novel The Lucky Gourd Shop. In a review for the San Francisco Chronicle, Andrea Behr called the novel "a story of rock-bottom poverty and institutional cruelty to women." A young woman, Mi Sook, finds herself a widow with three daughters when her husband is killed in a fall. While she is at work, her elderly mother-in-law takes the girls to an orphanage, believing this will free their mother to remarry, then passes away before her daughter-in-law returns home. Mi Sook arrives to find her mother-inlaw dead and her children gone. The children are eventually adopted by an American woman. Behr remarked that "Scott relates all this tragedy without an ounce of sentimentality. She writes simply and lyrically … and creates a convincing world in which poverty tries hard to kill love and often, but not always, succeeds." Christian Science Monitor reviewer Liz Marlantes called Scott's book one of "those rare, exquisitely written novels that offer a glimpse into a completely different world, without asking the reader to do anything but marvel." She continued, saying that "spare and elegant, the deceptively simple style allows Scott to touch on larger themes without ever sounding overwrought or heavy." Reviewing The Lucky Gourd Shop in the New York Times Book Review, Paige Williams called the book "a smart, sensitive book about independence, identity and survival."

Based on a true story, Cassandra, Lost recounts the experiences of Cassandra Owings during the French Revolution of the late eighteenth century. Forbidden by her father to marry Benedict van Pradelles, a French emigre, Cassandra decides to elope. She marries van Pradelles, and sails with him from Maryland to France, arriving on the shores of a country ravaged by the Revolution. Because her husband is an aristocrat, Cassandra finds they are reduced to poverty by the revolutionary government. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews found the book "a good sweep of history, though rather overwhelmed in the end by heavy breathing and swelling bosoms." Margaret Flanagan, writing for Booklist, said of the book: "brimming with romance, intrigue, and adventure, this spirited love story is firmly grounded in historical detail."

In addition to her novels, Scott has written several volumes of poetry, including Birth Mother, which won the Longleaf Poetry Award; Coming down from Bataan, which won the Acorn-Rukeyser Award; and New Jerusalem, which won the Capricorn Poetry Award. In 2002 she received the North Carolina Poet Laureate Award. Scott herself sponsors the Joanna Catherine Scott Award for Formal Poetry through the North Carolina Poetry Society, and the Joanna Catherine Scott Novel Excerpt Prize, which is awarded through PEN/Nob Hill in San Francisco.



Booklist, February 15, 2004, Margaret Flanagan, review of Cassandra, Lost, p. 1038.

Boston Globe, April 19, 2004, Carol Iaciofano, "Historical Novel Turns Fiery Soap Opera into an Uneven, Tepid Tale," p. B10.

Chicago Tribune, March 14, 2001, Patrick T. Reardon, "Dualing Novelists: Publishers Thrown Curve when Authors Have Same Names," Tempo section, p. 3.

Christian Science Monitor, August 10, 2000, Liz Marlantes, "Dignity in the Face of Tragedy: A Korean Mother's Quiet Desperation in Giving up Her Children," p. 20.

Denver Post, December 3, 2000, Enid Slack, "Adopted Korean Children's Long Path Retraced," p. G6.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2003, review of Cassandra, Lost, p. 1420.

Kliatt, March, 2002, Francisca Goldsmith, review of The Lucky Gourd Shop, p. 18.

New York Times Book Review, October 1, 2000, Paige Williams, review of The Lucky Gourd Shop, p. 19.

Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2000, review of The Lucky Gourd Shop, p. 174.

San Francisco Chronicle, August 27, 2000, Andrea Behr, "Children Lost and Found: A Journalist and a Novelist Tackle the Issue of Adopting Babies from Asia," p. 4.


Bellevue Literary Review Online, (August 27, 2004), "Joanna Catherine Scott."

MacAdam/Cage Publishing Web site, (August 27, 2004), "Joanna Catherine Scott."

Mekler and Deahl Press Web site, (August 27, 2004), "Joanna Catherine Scott."

Pedestal Online, (August 27, 2004), "Joanna Catherine Scott.", (August 27, 2004), "Joanna Catherine Scott."*

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Scott, Joanna Catherine 1943-

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