Susan Minot's first novel, Monkeys, was published in a dozen countries and received the Prix Femina Étranger in France. She is the author of Rapture, Lust & Other Stories, Folly, Evening, and Poems 4 A.M. She also wrote the screenplay for Bernardo Bertolucci's film Stealing Beauty. She now divides her time between an island in Maine and New York City.
by Susan Minot
Susan Minot was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up in Manchester-by-the-Sea, the second in a family of seven children. She studied writing and painting at Brown University and received an MFA in writing from Columbia University. After publishing short stories in The New Yorker and Grand Street, where she subsequently worked for the great editor Ben Sonnenberg, she was offered a contract for a novel by the legendary publisher Seymour Lawrence, who was to publish her next three books. His initial support for “a work of fiction” became Monkeys, nine stories which together make up a novel about the Vincent family, a New England family of seven children with a Catholic mother and Brahmin-background father. The stories cover twelve years in the life of the children, their mother’s “monkeys,” during which a tragic accident alters their lives. It was published in a dozen countries and won the Prix Femina Étranger in France in 1987.
The novel was followed by Lust & Other Stories, a collection about wayward artists and journalists living in New York City, particularly about the relations between men and women in their twenties and thirties having difficulty coming together and difficulty breaking apart.
Her third book, Folly, set in 1920s and '30s Boston, depicts a woman from a stifling Brahmin background and the two different men she falls in love with. The challenge Minot set for herself was to write about a place and society which had always disturbed her and to try to imagine how a woman could stay (and function) in that world.
In 1994 Minot was contacted by the director Bernardo Bertolucci, who wanted to develop a screenplay about an American girl visiting English expatriate artists living in Tuscany and having a “sentimental education.” Their collaboration resulted in Stealing Beauty, filmed in summer 1995, north of Siena. Minot was given the opportunity to continue polishing and learning on the set.
Evening, her fourth novel, is the story of a woman on her deathbed who, amidst the delirium, recalls a love affair she had forty years earlier. At twenty-five, while attending the wedding of her best friend on an island in Maine, she fell in love with one of the groomsmen. As her children wait and tend to her, she remembers every detail of those blissful three days, a time which emerges as the high point of her life. Evening was made into a major motion picture in 2007.
Minot's subsequent books are Rapture, a novella about a romance gone awry, and Poems 4 A.M., a collection of poetry. Having spent many years in one place, bent over paper writing, Minot then traveled for several years, in both Europe and Africa. She and her daughter now divide their time between North Haven, Maine, and New York City. When not writing, Minot paints.