From the author of the New York Times bestselling essay collection The Empathy Exams and the memoir The Recovering, Leslie Jamison’s “exquisitely beautiful” (San Francisco Chronicle) novel about three generations of women and the inescapable brutality of love.
As a young woman, Tilly flees home for the hollow underworld of Nevada, looking for pure souls and finding nothing but bad habits. One day, after Tilly has spent nearly thirty years without a family, drinking herself to the brink of death, her niece Stella—who has been leading her own life of empty promise in New York City—arrives on the doorstep of Tilly’s desert trailer. The Gin Closet unravels the strange and powerful intimacy that forms between them. With an uncanny ear for dialogue and a witty, unflinching candor about sex, love, and power, Leslie Jamison reminds us that no matter how unexpected its turns, the life we’re given is all we have: the cruelties that unhinge us, the beauties that clarify us, the addictions that deform us, those fleeting possibilities of grace that fade as quickly as they come. The Gin Closet marks the debut of a stunning new talent in fiction.
Leslie Jamison (born 1983) is an American novelist and essayist. She is the author of the 2010 novel The Gin Closet and the 2014 essay collection The Empathy Exams. Jamison also directs the non-fiction concentration in writing at Columbia University's School of the Arts. Jamison also leads a group of Columbia University MFA students in a Creative Writing Workshop at the Marian House, transitional housing for women in recovery.
Jamison was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Jamison attended Harvard College, where she majored in English, graduating in 2004; her senior thesis dealt with incest in the work of William Faulkner. While an undergraduate, she won the Edward Eager Memorial Fund prize in creative writing, an award also won by a classmate, writer Uzodimna Iweala. She was a member of the college literary magazine The Advocate and social club The Signet Society.
Jamison then attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she earned an MFA in fiction, well as Yale University where she earned a Ph.D. in English literature. At Yale, Jamison worked with Wai Chee Dimock, Amy Hungerford, and Caleb Smith, submitting a dissertation entitled "The Recovered: Addiction and Sincerity in 20th Century American Literature" in May 2016.