Mary Kay Zuravleff

Mary Kay Zuravleff has a new novel, Man Alive!, released in the fall of 2013 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. She is also the author of The Bowl Is Already Broken and The Frequency of Souls, both published by FSG. She has received the American Academy’s Rosenthal Award, the James Jones First Novel Award, and has been nominated for the Orange Prize. Mary Kay has taught writing in many graduate programs, including American University, Johns Hopkins University, and George Mason University, and she was the first Writer-in-Residence at St. Albans School for Boys. She serves on the board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and is a cofounder of the DC Women Writers Group. She currently lives in Washington, DC.

Books and Lesson Plans

  • The Frequency of Souls

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    George Mahoney suspects he is getting a little stale at redesigning refrigerators after 14 years in the same job. With the arrival of his new office mate, Niagara Spense, George is forced to re-evaluate everything in his life from love and family, to science itself. Obsessed by the six-feet-tall Niagara, the very foundations of George’s belief in facts and the physical world are shaken when she reveals that she is on an incredible quest for electrical evidence of life after death — “audible fossils” she calls them. As Niagara Spense seeks the dead, and George seeks her, everything becomes possible in a novel that makes engineering funny, and mixes the world of icemakers and butter softeners with the miraculous.

    Appropriate for grades 9 and up.

    Lessons on symbolism, character development, and point of view

  • The Bowl Is Already Broken

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    Promise Whittaker, the diminutive but decisive acting director of the Museum of Asian Art, is pregnant again--and that's just the beginning of her problems. Her mentor, the previous director, has suddenly quit, and is on a dig in China's Taklamakan Desert. Her favorite curator has dropped a priceless porcelain bowl, once owned by Thomas Jefferson, down the museum's steps. Another colleague has been embezzling from the museum to pay for her fertility treatments. And her far too handsome ancillary director is clearly up to no good. Promise's offbeat efforts to hold everything together make her a character who, in the words of the Newark Star-Ledger, "you'll be falling in love with before you've turned the first page."

    Appropriate for grades 11 and up.

    Course lesson plans for The Bowl Is Already Broken are currently in development.

  • Man Alive!

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    All it takes is a quarter to change Owen Lerner’s life. When lightning strikes the coin he’s feeding into the parking meter, the pediatric psychiatrist survives, except that now he only wants to barbecue. The bolt of lightning that lifts Dr. Lerner into the air sends the entire Lerner clan into free fall, and Man Alive! follows along at that speed, capturing family-on-family pain with devastating humor and a rare generosity. This novel explores how much we are each allowed to change within a family—and without. 

    Appropriate for grades 9 and up.

    Course lesson plans for Man Alive! are currently in development.

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