Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Ann Patchett

The Worthless Servant

Novelist Ann Patchett takes a ride with Charlie Strobel, Nashville advocate for the homeless

March 27, 2013 More than twenty-six years ago Charlie Strobel, a Catholic priest, conceived of a unique way to meet—if only temporarily—the Nashville homeless population’s most pressing need: a place to come in from the cold. Room in the Inn, an ecumenical network of overnight shelters housed in area churches and synagogues, opened in December 1986 with four congregations. Today the program, which runs November 1 through March 31, includes 6,000 volunteers from more than 180 congregations and provides meals and temporary shelter for up to 400 homeless guests each winter night. Last summer, novelist Ann Patchett made the rounds with Room in the Inn’s founder, Charlie Strobel. As the 2013 Room in the Inn season comes to a close, Chapter 16 is proud to publish Patchett’s essay about the experience. The piece appears in Not Less Than Everything: Catholic Writers on Heroes of Conscience, From Joan of Arc to Oscar Romero, edited by Catherine Wolff.

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Book Excerpt: Ann Patchett's State of Wonder

For Marina Singh, the protagonist of Ann Patchett’s riveting new novel, meeting Annick Swenson means confronting the most haunting episode of her own haunted past

April 25, 2011 In her forthcoming novel, State of Wonder, which hits shelves June 7, Nashville author Ann Patchett tells the story of Marina Singh, a researcher for a pharmaceutical company, who had trained to be an obstetrician, until a tragic mistake in the delivery room drove her from medicine. For more than a decade, she has tried to forget the botched C-section and the supervisor, Annick Swenson, who failed to come to her aid when the patient developed complications. But when the pharmaceutical company she works for sends Marina deep into the Amazon to find the elusive Dr. Swenson, who has spent the intervening years working in the jungle to develop a miracle fertility drug, Marina must confront both her long-feared professor and her understanding of her own past. In the following excerpt, Marina is on board a boat piloted by Easter, a deaf native child whom Annick Swenson has raised as a son. They are approaching the riverside village of the Lakashi, where the women of the tribe continue to bear children into old age.

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