Written by Amy Rowland
Algonquin Books, 2014; 256 pages
Lena, the transcriptionist, sits alone in a room far away from the hum of the newsroom that is the heart of the Record, the New York City newspaper for which she works. For years, she has been the ever-present link for reporters calling in stories from around the world. Turning spoken words to print, Lena is the vein that connects the organs of the paper. She is loyal, she is unquestioning, yet technology is dictating that her days there are numbered.
When she reads a shocking piece in the paper about a Jane Doe mauled to death by a lion, she recognizes the woman in the picture. They had met on a bus just a few days before. Obsessed with understanding what caused the woman to deliberately climb into the lion’s den, Lena begins a campaign for truth that will destroy the Record’s complacency and shake the venerable institution to its very foundation.
I really don't want to spoil anyone's pleasure by saying too much about Amy Rowland's exquisite debut novel. So I'll be brief: I absolutely LOVED The Transcriptionist.
Possibly my attraction was at least partly based on the fact that once upon a time (in a galaxy far, far away), I had a job that required me to do a lot of transcription work, very similar to that of the book's protagonist Lena (but not for a newspaper). So I know the hazards -- and the satisfactions -- of that work. I would never have thought it could be turned into such a beautiful, haunting story. Everyone should read this book!
I received my copy of The Transcriptionist through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. No other compensation was provided, and no one influenced my opinion of the book.