- Amherst ReadsAmherst Reads
- Featured Book of the Month
- Past Features
- January 2015: Race Horse Men by Katherine Mooney '04
- December 2014: Gruesome Spectacles by Austin Sarat
- November 2014: All I Love and Know by Judith Frank
- October 2014: Catching Lightning in a Bottle: How Merrill Lynch Revolutionized the Financial World by Winthrop H. Smith, Jr. '71
- September 2014: When Paris Went Dark: : The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944 by Ron Rosbottom
- August 2014: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian '82
- July 2014: The Economy of You by Kimberly Palmer '01
- June 2014: Collecting Shakespeare:The Story of Henry and Emily Folger
- May 2014: The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil
- April 2014: Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor '91
- March 2014: Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece
- February 2014: Forged: Why Fakes are the Great Art of Our Age
- January 2014: Full Upright and Locked Position by Mark Gerchick '73, P'13
- December 2013: This Indian Country by Fred Hoxie '69
- November 2013: The Partner Track by Helen Wan '95
- October 2013: The Forage House by Tess Taylor '99
- September 2013: Inferno by Dan Brown '86
- August 2013: Six Years by Harlan Coben '84, P'16
- July 2013: The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein '88
- June 2013 - Brothers Emanuel by Ezekiel Emanuel '79
- May 2013 - Cadaver by Jonah Ansell '03
- April 2013 - Masters of Disaster by Chris Lehane '90
- March 2013 - Schroder by Amity Gaige
- February 2013: El Iluminado by Ilan Stavans
- January 2013: Everything Under the Sun by David Suzuki '58
- December 2012: Arcadia by Lauren Groff
- November 2012: The Hidden Europe by Francis Tapon '92
- October 2012: The Price of Inequality by Joseph Stiglitz '64
- September 2012: Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum '99
- August 2012: Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski '69
- July 2012: Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach '93
- June 2012: Vineyard at the End of the World by Ian Mount '92
- May 2012: God's Jury by Cullen Murphy '74
- April 2012: Big Birthday by Kate Hosford '88
- March 2012: EyeMinded by Kellie Jones '81
- February 2012: 1493 by Charles Mann '76
- December 2011: The Vices by Lawrence Douglas
- November 2011: Don't Cross Your Eyes by Aaron Carroll '94
- October 2011: Come On All You Ghosts by Matthew Zapruder '89
- September 2011: The Pale King by David Foster Wallace '85
- August 2011: Scoundrels in Law by Cait Murphy '83
- July 2011: Terror and Wonder by Blair Kamin '79
- June 2011: What Should I Do? by Professor Alex George
- May 2011: Model Nazi by Professor Catherine Epstein
- April 2011: A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei '99
- March 2011: Unlikely Allies by Joel Paul '77
- February 2011: Secret Historian by Justin Spring '84
- December 2010: The Best of Foxtrot by Bill Amend '84
- November 2010: Higher Education? by Andrew Hacker '51
- October 2010: Routes of Man by Ted Conover '80
- September 2010: The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick '75
- August 2010: Innocent by Scott Turow '70
- July 2010: Simple Fresh Southern by Matt and Ted Lee '93
- June 2010: Ballet's Magic Kingdom by Professor Stanely Rabinowitz
- May 2010: Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman '68
- April 2010: Andean Express by Adrian Althoff '04
- March 2010: Freefall by Joseph Stiglitz '64
- February 2010: Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl '89
- December 2009: What to Read When by Pam Allyn '84
- November 2009: On Poets and Poetry by William H. Pritchard '53
- October 2009: Julie & Julia by Julie Powell '95
- September 2009: Rules for Old Men Waiting by Peter Pouncey
- August 2009: The End of Overeating by David Kessler '73
- July 2009: The Mirror Effect by Dr. Drew Pinsky '80
- June 2009: Art and Politics of Science by Harold Varmus '61
- May 2009: Hold Tight by Harlan Coben '84
- April 2009: Passing Strange by Marni Sandweiss
- March 2009: Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian '82
- February 2009: Loneliness as a Way of Life by Tom Dumm
- January 2009: Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein '88
- December 2008: The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff '01
- November 2008: The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate '89
- October 2008: The Thing Itself by Dick Todd '62
- September 2008: Are We Rome by Cullen Murphy '74
- Search the Catalog
About the Author: Jennifer Cody Epstein '88
Place of Birth
BA Amherst College 1988, MA Johns Hopkins University 1994, MFA Columbia University 2003
Why did you choose to come to Amherst?
It had pretty much everything I had been raised to revere in an institute of higher learning - although granted, this was probably because my dad and older brother went there (classes of '57 and '83 respectively). But I was also really drawn to the intimate academic atmosphere there and the freedom I knew it would give me intellectually. And I loved the fact that there were four other schools in the area to sample and learn from.
Favorite (most memorable or most influential) class at Amherst:
Tough!! There were so many...Econ 101 was probably the most memorable, if only because I came so very close to failing it. Introduction to Poetry was where I realized that I probably wasn't meant to be a poet, so that was influential. Introduction to Asian Religions (with Bob Thurman) opened me up to some pretty mind-blowing ideas philosophically that have continued to stay with me in one way or another since. And of course all of my English classes, and all of the collective papers I wrote for them - I think each one played an incremental role in shaping me as a future writer.
Favorite (most memorable or most influential) professor:
Sorry, I have to go with three. Andy Parker was my primary influence in writing and literature; Sam Morse gave me insight and guidance on Asian art and culture. And William Pritchard - though I never actually had him as a professor - once sent me a note complimenting me on a piece I'd written for The Student and advising me to "write more." It was a suggestion I truly took to heart - I still have the note framed somewhere.
It tends to shift according to my mood. At the moment, it's anything to do with Asia, art and art history, women's rights and World War II.
Awards and Prizes
Doshisha Prize and Doshisha Fellowship in 1988. Various fellowships and scholarships in graduate school.
Unfair question!! I can't possibly limit it to one.
Ditto! But here are a few I love: Toni Morrison, Vladimir Nabakov, David Mitchell, Jennifer Egan, Haruki Murakami, Sarah Waters, Ian McEwan, Ye Zhaoyan.
Tips for aspiring writers?
Just write. As much as possible. Every day, if you can. And when you aren't writing, think about writing. Staying connected to the craft, I find, is the only path to producing anything worthwhile.
Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an author.
I've been a book lover pretty much from the moment I learned to read, and so grew up fascinated by the power of the written word and of storytelling - in fiction in particular. Consequently I always saw myself as someone who would write novels, though growing up I didn't really know any adults who wrote for a living, so I didn't have much of a sense of what that looked like. I don't think my parents did either, which is probably why they suggested that becoming a journalist was a better and safer way to marry my love of words and stories then, say, holing up in a garret somewhere trying to do the Next Great American Opus. In many ways they were right - I did work as a print and television journalist for about ten years in Japan, Hong Kong, China and eventually back in the States. But the itch to write fiction never left me, and finally in 1999 I went back to graduate school to get my MFA. I haven't looked back since.