Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review: Sympathetic People By Donna Baier Stein

Sympathetic People
By Donna Baier Stein
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories


Both the beauty and frailty of human connections are seen in the thirteen stories collected in Sympathetic People. Here are women and men struggling to find love, meaning, happiness in marriage, adulterous affairs, art, meditation, and even the passage from life to death. Longing generated by loss is everywhere--in the death of a son, the end of a marriage, the slide from hope ignited by Neil Armstrong’s moon walk to hopelessness after President Kennedy’s death.  

"Donna Baier Stein is a discovery. Her deceptively mild story-telling veers swiftly into the savage but often unacknowledged discontent of suburban life - wives struggling with marital disappointment and missed opportunities, celebrating and often betrayed by unexpected friendships - all explored with language that engages and surprises."
- C. Michael Curtis, Fiction Editor, The Atlantic

"Donna Baier Stein writes with the grace and precision of a poet . . . here is a writer who trusts not only herself, but her readers, who will be skillfully guided into coming to their own satisfying conclusions."
--Elizabeth Berg, New York Times bestselling author, most recently of Tapestry of Fortunes


Sympathetic People is a wonderful collection of short stories. Stein’s writing leads readers through various time periods and diverse lifestyles. She eloquently depicts rites of passages that include times of love, loss, humility, nostalgia, and more.

I applaud the author for creating intriguing stories that allowed me to experience a multitude of emotions within just a few pages. The characters are colorful, the dialogue flows smoothly, and the issues will touch many.


Donna Baier Stein’s writing has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, Kansas Quarterly, New York Stories, Prairie Schooner, Washingtonian, many other journals and anthologies from Simon & Schuster and The Spirit That Moves us Press. Her short story collection was a Finalist in the Iowa Fiction Awards and will be published, as Sympathetic People, in 2013 by Serving House Books. She has received the PEN/New England Discovery Award for Fiction, a Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars Fellowship, Bread Loaf Scholarship, a grant from the New Jersey Council of the Arts, prizes from the Poetry Council of Virginia, two Pushcart nominations, and an Honorable Mention in the 2013 Allen E. Ginsberg Poetry Awards. Her poetry chapbook Sometimes You Sense the Difference was published in 2012 by Finishing Line Press. One of her stories was performed by Tony-award winning actress Maryann Plunkett at Playwrights Theatre in Madison, NJ. Donna was a Founding Editor of Bellevue Literary Review and founded and currently publishes Tiferet: A Journal of Spiritual Literature ( She is also an award-winning copywriter. Her website is

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