Jayne Anne Phillips
Lark & Termite
Lark & Termite is a National Book Award-nominated coming-of-age novel that centers on five characters: 17-year-old Lark; 9-year-old Termite, Lark's severely disabled half brothers; Nonie, the maternal aunt and caretaker of Lark and Termite; Lola, the mother of Lark and Termite and sister of Nonie; and Coporal Robert Leavitt, Termite's father. A tale of grief and survival, this 2009 Heartland Prize-winning story straddles a parallel six-day period in July, one in 1959 - during which Lark, Termite, and Nonie struggle to balance hope and despair in small-town West Virginia - and the other nine years earlier, when Corp. Leavitt serves a tour during the early chaotic period of the Korean War. In 2008, Pulitzer-Prize winning author Junot Diaz, a previewer for Lark & Termite, called it "an astounding feat of imagination;" the best novel he had read all year. Professor Phillips, the author of three other novels, Motherkind, Shelter, and Machine Dreams, and two collections of widely anthologized stories, Fast Lanes and Black Tickets, is the founder and program director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at Rutgers University in Newark.