Susan Jane Gilman

Susan Jane Gilman, whose reviews and commentaries can be heard regularly on All Things Considered, is a journalist, fiction writer and bestselling author of three nonfiction books: Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a SmartMouth Goddess and, most recently, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, a memoir about a naive and disastrous trek Gilman made through Communist China in 1986.

Gilman has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Ms., Us, The Village Voice, The New York Observer and Real Simple, among others.

Her short fiction has appeared in Story, Ploughshares, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Virginia Quarterly Review and The Greensboro Review, which awarded her its 1997 Literary Award. Gilman has received other awards as well, including a New York Press Association Award for articles she wrote on assignment in Poland as a cub reporter in 1990. She earned a BA in Literature from Brown University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan.

Gilman currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland, where she co-hosts Bookmark, a monthly book review show on World Radio Switzerland, the national English-language station. The rest of her time is spent writing, or as she puts it, staring catatonically at a blinking cursor. She also writes a humorous travel blog A View from A Broad.

If we didn't experience Hurricane Katrina ourselves, we saw it: the ominous red pinwheel on the radar, the wrecked Superdome, the corpses. And certainly we saw our shame — America's inequality, negligence and violence were all laid bare by the storm.

But one tragedy went largely unwitnessed. And this is the subject of Sheri Fink's provocative new book, Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital. The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer examines what happens when people make life-and-death decisions in a state of anarchy.

Ah, 'tis the season to be indulgent. Another glass of champagne? Please, have some homemade cookies. Does anyone want to go to the movies instead of the gym? As far as I'm concerned, December is Guilty Pleasures Time.