News & Events

Winner of the 2015 Rea Award for the Short Story

Andrea Barrett


Andrea Barrett is the winner of the 2015 Rea Award for the Short Story. The annual $30,000 Rea Award recognizes a living U. S. or Canadian writer. Rea established the award to honor a writer who has made a significant contribution to the discipline of the short story as an art form.

This year’s jurors, noted writers T. C. Boyle, Bill Henderson and Karen Shepard, offered the following citation:

In three collections of stories and six novels, Andrea Barrett has continually enlarged the geography of her imagination, and her lucky readers have been the beneficiaries of those explorations, experiencing, as her characters so often do, the way our own small pasts bear on our own small present. Barrett offers us the news from other worlds as a way to understand our own. In settings ranging all over the globe and from all different time periods, she specializes in examining what’s particularly human in the science we do, bringing those traditionally disparate worlds to bear on each other in surprising and moving ways. And she accomplishes those broad thematic implications with a precise and quietly intelligent style that surprises and disturbs and gratifies. That deceptive formal modesty keeps our focus on the world at the fiction’s heart and produces testimonies designed to celebrate the attested rather than the attester. The result has been a body of stories that like all great fiction expands our knowledge, brings us more fully into contact with the suffering of others, and supplies intense and gorgeous pleasure.

“Wonders of the Shore” published in Tin House

Tin House 66


“Wonders of the Shore” is featured in Tin House #66, Winter 2015.

“The Accident” published in the Harvard Review

Harvard Review 48


“The Accident” appears in Harvard Review 48, Fall 2015.

“The Years and The Years” published in AGNI 82



“The Years and The Years,” an essay on writing, was published in AGNI 82, November 2015.

Archangel chosen as a finalist for the Story Prize



Archangel was selected as one of three finalists for the tenth annual Story Prize.

Archangel featured in The New York Review of Books

Heroines in the Garden

Heroines in the Garden discusses the stories in Archangel, groundbreaking theories, and the pain of change: “While we do not regret the knowledge, we also know that every gain is also a loss, here the loss of the certainty that everything makes sense because it is all from the mind of the creator, arising from a single cause. Moreover, profound uncertainties about love, and about the possibility of happiness, beset the characters in these stories even as they search for clarity in new knowledge and understanding of science. Like Darwin, and Einstein, and all her other heroes, Barrett the storyteller pulls us relentlessly away from false comforts, into the dazzling, often chaotic, world as it really is.” Read the full article.

“The Particles” selected for The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013

The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013


“The Particles” was published in this year’s O. Henry Prize Stories, selected by editor Laura Furman and with essays by Lauren Groff, Edith Pearlman, and Jim Shepard on their favorite stories.


“Her characters’ thirst for discovery is contagious, and every story in Archangel is suffused with the most miraculous horizon light.”

— Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!

Read more »

The Air We BreatheThe Air We Breathe
“An evocative panorama of America… on the cusp of enormous change.”


Read more »

Servants of the MapServants of the Map

“These stories possess a wonderful clarity and ease, the serene authority of a writer working at the very height of her powers.”

— New York Times Book Review

Read more »

The Voyage of the NarwhalThe Voyage of the Narwhal

“Breathes with a contemporary urgency, an exhilarating adventure novel… A genuine page-turner that long lingers in the mind.”

Chicago Tribune

Read more »

Ship FeverShip Fever

“Her work stands out for its sheer intelligence, its painstaking attempt to discern and describe the world’s configuration.”

— New York Times

Read more »

The Forms of WaterThe Forms of Water
“Intelligent and elegiac… [a] winning novel.”

The Washington Post

Read more »

The Middle KingdomThe Middle Kingdom

“An exhilarating book… wonderful insights…. Ms. Barrett has captured a truly authentic Beijing.”

— Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club

Read more »

Secret HarmoniesSecret Harmonies

“Andrea Barrett’s characters are set out with meticulous care… Remarkably touching.”

— The Los Angeles Times

Read more »

Lucid StarsLucid Stars

“A quietly charming, seductive first novel… The dynamics of the modern broken… are limned here with rare sensitivity and insight.”

Publishers Weekly

Read more »

About the Author

Andrea Barrett

Andrea Barrett

Author photos © Barry Goldstein

Andrea Barrett was born in Boston in 1954, grew up on Cape Cod, and later attended Union College, where she graduated with a degree in biology. She began writing fiction seriously in her thirties and published her first novel, Lucid Stars, in 1988. In 1996, she received the National Book Award for her fifth book, Ship Fever, a collection of stories.Barrett is particularly well known as a writer of historical fiction. Her work reflects her lifelong interest in science, and women in science. Many of her characters are scientists, often 19th-century biologists.

Barrett received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2001. Her short story collection Servants of the Map was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

As in the work of William Faulkner, some of Barrett’s characters have appeared in more than one story or novel. In an appendix to her recent novel, The Air We Breathe (2007), Barrett supplied a family tree, making clear the characters’ relationships that began in Ship Fever. Although each novel and story is self-contained, the reader comprehends an added dimension when familiar with the characters’ previous histories.

Barrett teaches writing at Williams College and lives in North Adams, Massachusetts, with her husband, photographer Barry Goldstein.