Areas of Expertise
Barrett began writing fiction seriously in her thirties, but was relatively unknown until the publication of Ship Fever. The collection of novella and short stories won the National Book Award in 1996.
Barrett is particularly well known as a writer of historical fiction. Her work reflects her lifelong interest in science, and women in science. Many of her characters are scientists, often 19th-century biologists.
* (1988) Lucid Stars (novel)
* (1989) Secret Harmonies (novel)
* (1991) The Middle Kingdom (novel)
* (1993) The Forms of Water (novel)
* (1996) Ship Fever (collection of short stories) – 1996 National Book Award Winner
* (1998) The Voyage of the Narwhal (novel)
* (2002) Servants of the Map (collection of short stories) – 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Finalist
* (2007) The Air We Breathe (novel)
* (2013) Archangel (fiction)
Awards, Fellowships & Grants
Barrett received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2001. Her short story collection Servants of the Map was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
As in the work of William Faulkner, some of Barrett’s characters have appeared in more than one story or novel. In an appendix to her recent novel, The Air We Breathe (2007), Barrett supplied a family tree, making clear the characters’ relationships that began in Ship Fever. Although each novel and story is self-contained, the reader comprehends an added dimension when familiar with the characters’ previous histories.