Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is a Nashville-based novelist and nonfiction writer.

Selected Works:

Bel Canto, Run, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician’s Assistant, State of Wonder


1992 New York Times Notable Book of the Year (The Patron Saint of Liars), 1994 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize (Taft), 2002 PEN/Faulkner award winner (Bel Canto), 2002 Orange Prize winner (Bel Canto), 2001 finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award (Bel Canto), 2011 Wellcome Trust Book Prize shortlist (State of Wonder)

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Which one or two American books or plays would you yourself recommend to the foreign leaders?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is, to my mind, the quintessential American novel. It gets at the heart of how we strive and desire and so often fail to take responsibility for our actions. America is the land of reinvention and that's what Gatsby manages to do. At the other end of the spectrum, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and Lorraine Hansberry's Raisin in the Sun show what happens to the people who are shut out of the dream or fail at it. They're both brilliant plays.

Who in your childhood—for example, parent or teacher—encouraged you to read books, and which one or two books do you remember most fondly?

Sister Nena, who was a Sister of Mercy at St. Bernard's in Nashville, taught me to read. It was no easy task and I didn't love her for all the work she made me do at the time. Forty-two years later she's one of my dearest friends.

There was a picture book I loved called The Lonely Doll, by Dare Wright. Later on I was devoted to Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White. I begged my parents to give me a pig, which they did, for my ninth birthday.

Which books by writers of the other G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom) have been most important to you as a writer?

Independent People by Halldor Laxness, The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, and The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

What is the Power of the Word Exhibit?

Power of the Word: Leaders, Readers and Writers is the first online exhibition of The American Writers Museum. As world leaders gather in the U.S. this spring, The American Writers Museum Foundation is inviting American writers and readers to explore the power of the word and join in a discussion of how American books can help readers in other parts of the world better understand our culture.

Leaders Gallery

An exploration into what some of the world’s most powerful leaders like to read, and how reading has influenced them.

Writers Gallery

American writers comment on their early experiences with reading and name the books they think world leaders should read in order to better understand American culture.

Readers Gallery

An interactive, open forum where readers are invited to join the discussion by answering the question: Which American works of literature do you think leaders from other nations should read in order to gain a better understanding of America?

We would like to thank our exhibit sponsors for their generous support:


What is The American Writers Museum?

The mission of The American Writers Museum Foundation is to establish the first national museum in the United States dedicated to engaging the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture and our daily lives. Learn more at