90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Elizabeth Strout's 'Olive Kitteridge'
Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout just won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for a linked set of thirteen stories set on the coast of Maine. Small town stories. Intimate stories.

But don’t look here for lighthouses and quaint charm — for Lake Wobegon with lobsters.

Strout’s big, blunt heroine and the book’s namesake, Olive Kitteridge, is tough, wounded, wounding. She’s a force of nature — and nature creates and destroys. And endures, here in the face of infidelity, suicide, hostage-taking and life’s bewilderment.

This hour, On Point: Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Strout and “Olive Kitteridge.”

You can join the conversation. Have you read it? What did you learn from Olive Kitteridge? What can we learn from these stories of small-town interconnectedness? In our go-go-go fast-paced global world, how important is it to know our neighbors? Our community? Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Elizabeth Strout won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her latest book, “Olive Kitteridge.” Previous works include “Abide with Me” and “Amy and Isabelle.” She is on the faculty of the MFA program at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Read an excerpt from “Olive Kitteridge.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Sam E.

    Could you ask, Elizabeth Strout if basket of trips was inspired by Hitchcock? The sort of glum sense of humor with which the characters contemplating murder reminded me very much of a conversation from say Rope or the Trouble with Harry.

  • Sam E.

    *were contemplating

  • Bobbie Brennan

    Her ability to capture the seemingly inconsequential moments of life and transform them into powerful, careful observations about the complexity of relationships. In a world of political correctness and people reluctant to speak the truth, Olive is so refreshingly real. Everyone needs as friend like her:someone to strip away the falseness. As someone who has recently retired from teaching English, I was so captivated by her observations about aging that I had to research her age- too young to have lived through but so accurate nonetheless.
    I am a usually a serial reader but with Olive I had to stop for days-weeks- to reflect on the lives and the meaning of the characters, not wanting to have any other characters interfere!

  • claire Williams

    I found Olive to be the most unsympathetic, disagreeable character that I’ve encountered in a long time. I felt sorry for her when she lost her husband to a stroke, but I still couldn’t overcome my feelings of antipathy.
    The other people in the book led lives of such quiet desperation that it made me feel very lucky! My life hasn’t been all sweetness and light but in contrast to most of the people in this book, it’s been a piece of cake!!

  • Virginia

    I haven’t read the book but will now. From what little I’ve heard — I’m Olive too.

  • Laurie Lemson

    I wanted to thank Elizabeth Strout for writing “Olive Kitteredge”. It affected me in so many ways, on so many levels that I feel enriched and enlightened by it. Most importantly to me, I feel forgiven for being human, for failing, and succeeding at life. I’ve struggled always to “become good” and Olive showed me the pointlessness and wastefulness of that approach. Because, despite her ornery-ness and insensitivity, she was equally kind and perceptive. Me too. And it’s the way it is. The book was masterful in it’s ability to reach us, and to teach us. Again, thank you for writing it.

  • Melissa Cullina

    I live in coastal Maine and I can’t wait to read this book after hearing this program. I’m just about to share a link to this program with a friend. On Point is my FAVORITE program and I stream it from ME all the time.

  • Deb Snyder

    Just what I was looking for in a new author – My grandmother was brought up in Maine I have that old yankee woven into my every fiber – I have a summer place on the coast of Maine a someday hope to live there. I am on a personal journey of self discovery and I can’t wait to loose and find myself in Elizebeth’s books. Great interview!

  • Margaret Culver

    I read this great book while in England and gave it to a young woman friend upon my return to the USA because I wanted to share Eliz’s wonderful style with a younger generation.

  • Pingback: Book Discussion Questions: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout - Check It Out

Sep 2, 2014
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks with Mark Wilson, event political speaker chairperson, with his wife Elain Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, August 4, 2012. (AP)

Nine weeks counting now to the midterm elections. We’ll look at the key races and the stakes.

Sep 2, 2014
Confederate spymaster Rose O'Neal Greenhow, pictured with her daughter "Little" Rose in Washington, D.C.'s Old Capitol Prison in 1862. (Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

True stories of daring women during the Civil War. Best-selling author Karen Abbott shares their exploits in a new book: “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.”

Sep 1, 2014
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) recovers a fumble by Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson (3) in the second quarter of the NFL preseason football game on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP)

One outspoken fan’s reluctant manifesto against football, and the big push to reform the game.

Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: August 29, 2014
Friday, Aug 29, 2014

On hypothetical questions, Beyoncé and the unending flow of social media.

More »
Drew Bledsoe Is Scoring Touchdowns (In The Vineyards)
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Football great — and vineyard owner — Drew Bledsoe talks wine, onions and the weird way they intersect sometimes in Walla Walla, Washington.

More »
Poutine Whoppers? Why Burger King Is Bailing Out For Canada
Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Why is Burger King buying a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain? (We’ll give you a hint: tax rates).

More »
1 Comment