Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Prose, Francine

(1947-    ) US writer. Her first novel, Judah the Pious (1973), is a magical Quest tale which an elderly rabbi tells to the young king of Poland. The Glorious Ones (1974) dramatizes the fortunes of a 17th-century Italian Commedia dell'Arte troupe who inhabit a world steeped in Fate, Curses and miraculous events. As in nearly all of FP's work, these novels' fantastic nature owes more to their emphasis on theatricality, the creation of fictions and human receptivity to the otherworldly than to the question of whether supernatural events actually take place. Marie Laveau (1977) and Animal Magnetism (1978), both set in the 19th century, deal with subjects – respectively the famous Voodoo worker and Mesmerism – that inhabit both history and the literature of fantasy.

Household Saints (1981) concerns a post-WWII Italian-US family whose daughter abjures worldliness – and eventually the world – in her devotion to Saint Thérèse (1873-1897). Hungry Hearts (1983), set among Yiddish theatre in 1920s New York, resembles The Glorious Ones in its characters' tendency to interpret astonishing events in terms of the fantastic. Bigfoot Dreams (1986) hilariously limns the life of a staff writer for a supermarket tabloid whose stories seem to foretell actual events. Primitive People (1992) and Hunters and Gatherers (1995) are contemporary Satires.

FP's ironic but impassioned voice, her spare lyricism and her considerable Humour have won her critical acclaim. [GF]

other works: Women and Children First (coll 1988); The Peaceable Kingdom (coll 1993).

Francine Prose

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.