"Akins is a powerful and orginal writer."
--Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
Ellen Akins is the author of the novels Home Movie, Little Woman, Public Life, and Hometown Brew, and the short story collection World Like a Knife. She has published short stories in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, The Missouri Review, and The Southwest Review, which (the last two) awarded her their biennial short fiction awards. Her work has also appeared in the online publications Perigee and Serving House Journal. She has written reviews for numerous publications and is a regular contributor to The Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Akins is the recipient of awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Whiting Foundation, the Ingram-Merrill Foundation, the National Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Wisconsin Arts Board.
"A list of women writers might include Ellen Akins, Andrea Barrett, Kathryn Davis, Rebecca Goldstein, Maureen Howard, Toni Morrison, Cynthia Ozick, Susan Sontag. These are some of the writers -- some famous, some not so famous -- who have no male counterparts. These are the American writers who are capable of rousing us when we're ready to listen."
--Joanna Scott, Salon, July 2, 1998
"Ellen Akins's Home Movie is a brilliant first novel, subtle, wise, and highly theatrical. Just off-stage : melodrama as intense and bizarre as anything in the best of the Hollywood weepies. Onstage: cool authorial maneuvers, stunning visuals, high rhetoric, virtuoso performances, and, beneath all its disguises, the nearest thing to a genuine novel of ideas seen in a very long time. Here, clearly, is an important new writer."
"Ellen Akins's tough, sassy, sardonic account of a female utopia turns upside down sentimental narratives and reveals the darker side of comic versions of women's collectives."
--Wendy Martin, Chicago Tribune
jacket illustration: Mary Jo Vath, White Apple, 1988
"Akins is clearly interested in archetypal relationships: mother-daughter, father-daughter, father-son. The title of these impressive stories is apt. Like a knife, the author's fictional world is cold, sharp, and deadly."
--Sara Mosle, New York Newsday
"For a novel about superficiality, Ellen Akins's Public Life is startlingly---seductively--deep. Public Life is intense, idea-dense, and infused with a sense of tragic urgency. Once you've experienced the making of a president, Akins-style, you'll never watch a presidential campaign--or a president--quite the same way again." --Chicago Sun-Times
"Family politics rage in Ellen Akins's novel 'Hometown Brew' . . . But class and sexual politics also surface when Frank becomes involved with Alice Reinhart, a blue-collar striver with a shady past who has taken a job at the brewery. Add company politics to the mix after Alice's male co-workers start to harass her. These swirling waters are parted when the plot, suddenly bearing straight ahead, drives to a climactic rape at the plant -- which gives a paradoxical boost to Gutenbier's sales. In the wake of the violence, Akins slows down again to reflect on its causes, and on the ways in which men and women remain unknowable to each other."
--Julie Gray, New York Times
"This surprising novel doesn't announce itself as feminist in theme and purpose. But slowly and subtly it becomes clear that is what Akins has in mind. Set in a beer-brewing town in Wisconsin where men are men and women are supposed to be women, the novel focuses on two women and the unpleasant discoveries they are forced to. . . . Both plots move forward following a slow and sinister plan that is not evident until it is fully hatched. Once hatched, it is horrible. "Hometown Brew" leaves an unusually powerful aftertaste." --Barbara Fisher, Boston Globe
"Akins' prose can be stirring, analytic and precise . . . [She] has keen insight that it often unfurled in gorgeous sentences."
--Michele Wucker, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"'Hometown Brew' is not merely a meditation on one family's struggle for survival and simplicity in an increasingly complicated and calculating world. Akins, as displayed in her five previous novels, is a writer concerned with ambitious ideas and the larger themes of life. In 'Hometown Brew' the setting may be small and the stakes, well, beer, but the true story lies not in surface concerns but in the dark themes--family loyalty versus survival, notions of sexual harassment, big business versus mom-and-pop America, the fine line between duty and love--bubbling just beneath."
--Liesel Litzenburger, Detroit Free Press>