Egan, Kerry

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Egan, Kerry


Born in Long Island, NY; married Alex Ruskell (an academic administrator); children: Jimmy. Education: Washington and Lee University, B.A. (religion; magna cum laude, with honors); Harvard University, M.A. (divinity), 2001.


Home—Iowa City, IA. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer and scholar. Nursing home ombudsman; Dana Farber Cancer Institute, chaplain intern; Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions, research assistant to director Lawrence Sullivan.


Phi Beta Kappa.


Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2004.


Kerry Egan's First book, Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago, is based on the journal entries Egan kept while completing a 400-mile pilgrimage to the Spanish Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of Saint James are said to be buried. As a twenty-four-year-old graduate student at Harvard University's

divinity school, Egan suffered the unexpected death of her father due to complications from diabetes. Her fa- ther's death propelled Egan to question her Roman Catholic faith, resulting in her decision to take an expedition on the Camino de Santiago accompanied by her boyfriend, Alex, then a student at the University of Illinois Writing Workshop.

Writing Fumbling proved to be an essential part of Egan's grieving process. In an online interview for Earth Goat, she explained that writing "was a necessary part of my grieving, as necessary as the pilgrimage was." The writer also noted that she had never initially thought of herself as a writer, until Alex encouraged her to write about her spiritual journey. "I knew nothing about the craft and discipline of writing," Egan admitted. "Alex's experiences in the Workshop helped me realize that the only way to learn to write is through a lot of practice. And that was an important thing for me to realize."

Booklist critic George Cohen called Fumbling a "compassionate and unforgettable testimony of [Egan's] … pilgrimage." In Publishers Weekly a reviewer acknowledged the writer for her ability to intertwine personal reflection and historical and theological theories, an aspect that makes Fumbling "a satisfying account of the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of religious pilgrimage."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, September 15, 2004, George Cohen, review of Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago, p. 72.

Publishers Weekly, July 26, 2004, review of Fumbling, p. 50.


Earth Goat Web site, (June 15, 2005), interview with Egan.

Kerry Egan Home Page, (November 30, 2006).

Marly Russoff & Associates Web site, (November 30, 2006), "The Story behind the Book."