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Author Tue Oct 29 2013

Elizabeth Gilbert Speaks About The Signature of All Things at Printers Row

Most people know Elizabeth Gilbert as the author of Eat, Pray, Love, a memoir that recounts her globe-hopping recovery from a devastating divorce. However, before Gilbert became an icon for women seeking greater self-awareness (or a self-indulgent navel gazer, depending on who you ask), she was an award-winning fiction writer. Her short story collection Pilgrims was the winner of a Pushcart Prize, as well as a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her first novel, Stern Men, garnered rave reviews from the likes of the New York Times. Tomorrow, Gilbert will discuss her return to fiction after more than a decade with her new novel, The Signature of All Things.

A work of historical fiction set in the 19th century, The Signature of All Things tells the story of botanist Alma Whittaker. Whittaker's devotion to an as-yet-unstudied phylum of moss, as well as the decidedly unscientific pursuit of love, takes her and the reader around the world from London to Peru, to Amsterdam and Philadelphia and finally Tahiti. Gilbert conducted three years of research to create Alma's world, and skillfully weaves historical events, such as the murder of Captain Cook, into the narrative. Barbara Kingsolver in her New York Times book review describes the novel as "a bracing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas, in a world that reveals its best truths to the uncommonly patient minds." And for the naysayers who have relegated Gilbert strictly to the domain of chick lit, Aimee Levitt of the Chicago Reader grudgingly admits, "All this would be worth nothing, of course, if Gilbert couldn't write. But she can. Extremely well. Goddamn it."

Elizabeth Gilbert will appear on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 7pm as part of Trib Nation's Printers Row series. The event takes place in the Grand/State ballroom at the Palmer House Hilton (17 E. Monroe St). Admission is $25 per ticket or $53 for a ticket plus a copy of the new book.

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