June 16, 2014

Leslie Jamison receives two-book deal from Little, Brown


Leslie Jamison. Photograph by Colleen Kinder.

Leslie Jamison (photograph by Colleen Kinder)

Leslie Jamison, author of the bestselling The Empathy Exams, has earned “a reported seven figure deal with Little, Brown for two books,” Biographile reported last week.

The two books are the following:

Archive Lush will be an “exploration of addiction blending cultural criticism, journalistic reporting, and literary criticism with the author’s own narrative.” Ghost Essays, meanwhile, appears to be more removed from the reverb of society’s soundbites, taking a more metaphysical approach on “haunting and obsession, love and loneliness.”

Archive Lush, Biographile says, will be “narrative nonfiction”; Ghost Essays will, as the title suggests, be another essay collection.

Jamison’s Empathy Exams, which Graywolf released on April 1st, spurred poetry from most of the reviews that covered it, from Dwight Garner’s for the New York Times (a review which is distinct from Olivia Laing’s, the book’s other review in the Times)—

In “Our Mutual Friend,” Charles Dickens described a young woman as having “a heart well worth winning, and well won.” It’s high praise. Ms. Jamison wants us to own similar hearts. It’s an egalitarian impulse. Mine tells me I’ll read whatever she writes, as long as I’m around.

—to Ann Hulbert’s for the Atlantic:

Jamison says she wants, in David Foster Wallace’s words, to make our “heads throb heart-like.” She does something harder, too: she’ll make your heart throb head-like.

In short, The Empathy Exams is beloved by many (including several airport bookstores I visited last week—a boon for a book of literary essays). If you haven’t yet read her, Emily Perper’s choose-your-own-adventure list for Longreads offers an excellent introduction to Jamison’s work and interviews.


Emma Aylor is a former Melville House intern.