Bel Canto : Biography
Ann Patchett was born on December 2, 1963, in Los Angeles, California. Her father Frank Patchett was a police captain, and her mother, Jeanne Ray, was a nurse who later became a novelist. Patchett’s parents divorced in 1968, and Patchett, her elder sister, and her mother went to live in Nashville, Tennessee. Patchett, who survived a car accident when she was a child, decided very early that she wanted to be a writer. She attended St. Bernard’s Academy and after that enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College in NewYork,where in fiction wriitng classes she was tutored by notable writers such as Russell Banks and Grace Paley. She graduated in 1984, the same year in which her short story, "All Little Colored Children Should Play the Harmonica," was published in the prestigiousThe Paris Review.
After graduation, Patchett contributed freelance nonfiction to the magazine Seventeen for nine years. She also pursued further academic study, receiving an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1987. Her first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars, was published in 1992. The following year, she had a fellowship to the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College in 1993. After that she returned to Nashville to continue her literary career while also working for a while at the restaurant T.G.I. Friday’s to pay the bills.
Patchett’s second novel was Taft (1994), followed by The Magician's Assistant (1997) and Bel Canto: A Novel (2001). The latter was a success with critics and reading public alike. It won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize, and was a National Book Critic Circle Award finalist. It sold over one million copies and has been translated into thirty languages. Patchett’s fifth novel was Run (2007), followed byWhat Now?(2008) and State of Wonder (2011).She also wrote the memoir, Truth & Beauty: A Friendship (2004) and This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage (2013), a collection of twenty-two previously published essays. In 2014, she won the annual Helmerich Award, which is made to an author who has written a distinguished body of work.
Patchett married Karl VanDevender, a physician, in 2005. They live in Nashville.