Book Review | The Transcriptionist : a novel by Amy Rowland

book cover The transcriptionist : a novel / Amy Rowland.This debut novel by Amy Rowland of The New York Times examines a fictional slice of life of a transcriptionist working for a major NYC paper. Main character Lena is in her 30’s and single, living at a Salvation Army residence for women. Her simple life involves little human interaction as she walks and busses to and from her job as sole transcriptionist at renowned paper, The Record. Each day she listens to the recorded voices of strangers as she types their words in preparation for printing. Mostly Lena notices details that have been omitted from the final articles, but it is the inclusion of one article in particular, about a blind woman mauled by lions, that prompts her to reexamine her role and the role of the newspaper overall.

The Transcriptionist has received positive reviews from major sources including Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal. Personally, I’d give the book a 2 or 3 out of 5. It took a long time to get somewhat interesting. Around 70 pages in, I was still considering quitting. The story lines and main character are fairly plain and I just didn’t care what, if anything, was going to happen. Certain parts of this book reminded me of Téa Obreht’s novel The Tiger’s Wife, but that book was actually worth the struggle to get into it. If you’re still interested in this new book about a melancholy lady with a sense of ethics, check it out from a library near you.

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About amy de simone
Amy is an active volunteer, traveler and photographer. She is interested in art, libraries, museums and nonprofits. She holds an M.A. in Library & Information Studies and a B.A. in Italian Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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