John Nickel is a black ex-jazz musician who only wants to be a good father. When his son is taken away to Miami by his mother, Nickel is left with nothing but Myddy's, the Memphis blues bar that he manages. Then he hires Fay Taft, a young white waitress from east Tennessee, and things change.
Ann Patchett's first novel, "The Magician's Assistant", was shortlisted for the Orange Prize.
PRAISE FOR TAFT: 'Expect miracles when you read Ann Patchett's fiction. Comparisons are tempting to the unabashed romanticism of Laurie Colwin, the eccentric characters of Anne Tyler, the enchantments of Alice Hoffman. But Patchett is unique; a generous, fearless and startlingly wise young writer.' NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF BOOKS "Patchett is excellent at portraying the steady love and interest that holds the family members together, even though that love and interest isn't always successful at preserving them from danger." Jane Smiley 'That Ann Patchett, who is white, should choose a black man as her narrator may raise some eyebrows, but the tone is so steady and strong that the increasingly dangerous surprises delivered here catch up with you every time.' NEW YORKER 'Taft's story of the relationship between the black, bar-owning drummer John Nickel, who narrates the novel, and white, 18-year-old Fay Taft, who comes to work for him, is constantly engaging.' Erica Wagner, The Times 'Patchett's solid, assured tale moves at a swift pace but the real strength is in the development of the characters.' The Scotsman 'The emotional ties are so taut that the merest touch from Patchett sets everything jangling. A marvellously understated book.' The Guardian 'Taft, shows the author's skill at putting herself - and her readers - in another skin. Her skill is simply extraordinary.' Erica Wagner, The Times PRAISE FOR BEL CANTO, WINNER OF THE ORANGE PRIZE 2002: 'A beguiling mix of thriller, romantic comedy, and novel of ideas...Crisply written, immaculately plotted, and often very funny, it is that rarity -- a literary novel you simply can't put down.' The Times 'Like the blueprint of operatic performance that she has imported, Patchett slides from strutting camp to high tragedy, minute social comedy to sublime romanticism.' Alex Clark, The Guardian
Ann Patchett was born in Los Angeles in 1963. She is the author of The Patron Saint of Liars, The Magician's Assistant and Bel Canto for which she won the Orange Prize 2002. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Nashville Banner Tennessee Writer of the Year Award. She has also written for numerous publications including, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, Vogue, GQ, Elle and Gourmet. Ann Patchett lives in Nashville, Tennessee.