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Lena, the transcriptionist, sits alone in a room far away from the hum of the newsroom that is the heart of the Record, the big city newspaper for which she works. For years, she has been the ever-present link for reporters calling in stories from around the world. Hooked up to a machine that turns spoken words to print, Lena is the vein that connects the organs of the paper. She is loyal, she is unquestioning, yet technology is dictating that her days there are numbered.

When she reads a shocking piece in the paper about a Jane Doe mauled to death by a lion, she recognizes the woman in the picture. They had met on a bus just a few days before. Obsessed with understanding what caused the woman to deliberately climb into the lion’s den, Lena begins a campaign for truth that will destroy the Record’s complacency and shake the venerable institution to its very foundation. In doing so she also recovers a life—her own.

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Amy Rowland

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Review quotes

“A haunting and provocative novel about the mysteries of life and a death, the written word, things seen and unseen, heard and forgotten. Amy Rowland's writing is compelling and masterful.” —Delia Ephron, author of The Lion Is In

“This haunting, beautiful book set me thinking and dreaming about language and personality. It proves that language can make us whole. The entire book tends towards liberation, and the end is so suggestive and life-affirming, though not a typical happy ending. It's something better, something the reader can carry back into life.” —Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat and Other Stories

“If one had to name an antecedent for the strange, golden sheen that covers Amy Rowland’s debut novel, possibly early John Cheever, with its dreamy imaginings of commuter intrigues, or beautifully cadenced, resonant verbal exchanges, would be closest. Entering the city Rowland creates, with its tightly strung dialogue and soulful, lonely citizens, is a memorable experience.” —The Boston Globe

“A lively tale, light and enjoyable, about a sensitive, reflective and articulate soul in a fast-paced, often soulless world.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Rowland, a former transcriptionist for the New York Times, has written a strange, mesmerizing novel about language, isolation, ethics, technology, and the lack of trust between institutions and the people they purportedly serve . . . A fine debut novel about the decline of newspapers and the subsequent loss of humanity--and yes, these are related.” —Booklist, starred review

“Sly and humane and with a delicate touch of surrealism, The Transcriptionist is a masterpiece.” —Haven Kimmel, author of Iodine and A Girl Named Zippy

“What a laser-sharp eye Amy Rowland has! From her perch in the most out-of-the-way nook in the world's most powerful paper, her heroine seems to be able to take in the whole world. This first novel is wise, beautifully written, with just the right amount of wickedness.” —James Magnuson, author of Famous Writers I Have Known

“Unforgettable. Written with such delight, compassion, and humanity it’s newsworthy. Amy Rowland is the debut of the year.” —Alex Gilvarry, author of From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant 

The Transcriptionist is suffused with prescient insight into journalism, ethics, and alienation . . . A thought provoking, original work.” —New York Journal of Books

Product Details
Categories
Number of pages
272
Publication date
January 20, 2015
ISBN
9781616204501