Episode 5: Leslie Jamison

iTunesHost Rachel Yoder talks with best-selling author LESLIE JAMISON about the compost heap of failure, a tool for reframing failure that Leslie calls “Detroiting it,” and how to navigate feedback of all sorts—from classmates to spouses.

Leslie Jamison‘s most recent book, a collection of essays called The Empathy Exams, won the 2012 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and was named one of the best books of the year by NPR, The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. The Huffington Post declared that Leslie “seems poised for greatness; don’t miss out.” The Gin Closet, Leslie’s first book was one of The San Francisco Chronicle’s best books of the year. Leslie’s articles, essays and fiction have appeared in many publications including Harper’s, The Believer and The New York Times.

A graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Leslie also recently graduated with her PhD from Yale University. She is an assistant professor at Columbia University and also mentors through the PEN Prison Writing Program. She has worked—for various stints, in various points—as a baker, an office temp, a barista, a medical actor and an innkeeper. Learn more at the author’s website.

empathy exams


“A heady and unsparing examination of pain and how it allows us to understand others, and ourselves. . . . Jamison is ever-probing and always sensitive. Reporting is never the point; instead, her observations of people, reality TV, music, film, and literature serve as a starting point for unconventional metaphysical inquiries into poverty tourism, prison time, random acts of violence, abortion, HBO’s Girls, bad romance, and stereotypes of the damaged woman artist.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred review