Jill Bialosky

Memoirist, Novelist, Poet & Editor

 

"Bialosky, with her delicate touch and clear eye for human frailty, is an author of talent..." —Los Angeles Times

 

[Bialosky's] hand is always skillful, as attentive to the rhythms of storytelling as to conveying emotion. —Time

 

Jill Bialosky was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Her New York Times Bestselling memoir, History of a Suicide: My Sister's Unfinished Life, was called "Extraordinarily useful...a source of solace and understanding" by Time Magazine, and "Eloquent, harrowing and wise, brave and necessary, and a gift for anyone who has lost a friend or family member to suicide” by the San Francisco Chronicle.

History of a Suicide Video

History of a Suicide: Publisher's Weekly Interview

Bialosky's collections of poems are Intruder (2008), which the LA Times called "sharply perceptive, reminding readers about the way life forces us to our knees while restoring us to our true selves”; Subterranean (2001); The End of Desire (1997); and The Players (2015). Bialosky is also the author of the novels House Under Snow (2002) and The Life Room (2007). She is co-editor, with Helen Schulman, of the anthology Wanting A Child (1998). Bialosky has received a number of awards, including the Elliot Coleman Award in Poetry. Her poems and essays appear in The New Yorker, O Magazine, Paris Review, The Nation, The New Republic, Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review among other publications.

The Life Room: Washington Post Express Interview

Bialosky studied for her undergraduate degree at Ohio University and received a Master of Arts degree from the Writing Seminars at The Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. She is currently Executive Editor at W. W. Norton & Company and lives in New York City.

 

About HISTORY OF A SUICIDE (Memoir, 2011)
On the night of April 15, 1990, Jill Bialosky’s twenty-one-year-old sister Kim came home from a bar in downtown Cleveland. She argued with her boyfriend on the phone. Then she took her mother’s car keys, went into the garage, closed the garage door. She climbed into the car, turned on the ignition, and fell asleep. Her body was found the next morning by the neighborhood boy her mother hired to cut the grass. Those are the simple facts, but the act of suicide is anything but simple. For twenty years, Bialosky has lived with the grief, guilt, questions, and confusion unleashed by Kim's suicide. In this remarkable work of literary nonfiction, she re-creates with unsparing honesty her sister's inner life, the events and emotions that led her to take her life on this particular night. In doing so, she opens a window on the nature of suicide itself, our own reactions and responses to it—especially the impact a suicide has on those who remain behind. Combining Kim’s diaries with family history and memoir, drawing on the works of doctors and psychologists as well as writers from Melville and Dickinson to Sylvia Plath and Wallace Stevens, Bialosky gives us a stunning exploration of human fragility and strength. She juxtaposes the story of Kim's death with the challenges of becoming a mother and her own exuberant experience of raising a son. This is a book that explores all aspects of our familial relationships—between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters—but particularly the tender and enduring bonds between sisters. History of a Suicide brings a crucial and all too rarely discussed subject out of the shadows, and in doing so gives readers the courage to face their own losses, no matter what those may be. This searing and compassionate work reminds us of the preciousness of life and of the ways in which those we love are inextricably bound to us.

About INTRUDER (Poetry, 2008)

“Gorgeous . . . what a rush these stormy poems of love, disruption, and resignation are, as intense and perfectly noted as violin concertos.” —Booklist


The dark and beautiful third collection from Jill Bialosky is a book about the intrusion of eros, art, and the imagination on ordinary life. The lover who whispers "Is it still snowing? ... Will you stay with me?" in the first poem reappears throughout the book in different guises—sometimes seemingly real, at other times as muse, doppelgänger, or dream. In "The Seduction," as the lovers stand to watch a house fire—"gorgeous, dazzling, / the orange and reds of such ruin"—the poem becomes a study in the nature of reality, selfhood, and the different levels of consciousness we inhabit. Evoking Penelope and Orpheus and Eurydice, Bialosky explores how desire and the act of creation can both threaten the self and bring us to a powerful self-understanding. In Intruder— her most mesmerizing gathering of poems yet—Bialosky has captured not only the fleeting truths and pleasures of passion but also its mysterious dangers.

 

About THE LIFE ROOM (Novel, 2007)

"In her exquisite, carefully observed exploration of a modern woman's inner life, Jill Bialosky has written a novel that poses an essential question: how do we reconcile our passions—love, work, erotic life, children?" —Dani Shapiro


Eleanor Cahn is a professor of literature, the wife of a preeminent cardiac surgeon, and a devoted mother. But on a trip to Paris to present a paper on Anna Karenina, Eleanor re-connects with Stephen, a childhood friend with whom she has had a complicated relationship, that forces her to realize that she has suppressed her passionate self for years. As the novel unfolds, we learn of her hidden erotic past: with alluring, elusive Stephen; with ethereal William, her high school boyfriend; with married, egotistical Adam, the painter who initiated her into the intimacies of the "life room," where the artist's model sometimes becomes muse; and with loyal, steady Michael, her husband. On her return to New York, Eleanor and Stephen's charged attraction takes on a life of its own and threatens to destroy everything she has. Jill Bialosky has created a fresh, piercingly real heroine who struggles with the spiritual questions and dilemmas of our time and, like Tolstoy's immortal Anna Karenina, must choose between desire and responsibility.

 

Jill Bialosky website