Pair the talent implied by acceptance into and completion of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop with the affirmation of a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award for 2012 and you get Jennifer duBois. DuBois, who teaches in the MFA program at Texas State University-San Marcos, secured her rising stardom last year with the publication of her first novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes.
Her follow-up, Cartwheel, published last month, has been making waves and earning duBois some well-deserved respect. The New York Times called the novel “a pleasure,” describing duBois’ writing as “electric, fine-tuned, intelligent” and “conflicted”—the latter characteristic applied to duBois’ realistic portrayal of the paradox-laden psyche of a modern American citizen displaced in a foreign country.
The novel chronicles the lives of Middlebury College student Lily Hayes and her family during Lily’s indictment and trial for the murder of her roommate while studying abroad in Argentina.
DuBois’ skill at crafting situation and circumstance delivers deep insight into each character’s internal experience, turning a story that runs the risk of derivative rehashing (duBois has said the tale was inspired by the real-life Amanda Knox debacle) into a memorable novel that blends engaging plot twists with smart social commentary.