What’s up next? The Transcriptionist, by Amy Rowland

The Transcriptionist

Today I started reading Amy Rowland’s debut novel, The Transcriptionist. It’s a story about Lena, who works as a transcriptionist for the Record, a big newspaper in New York. Lena works alone in a room on the eleventh floor, transcribing reporters’ stories. She’s the last of her profession at the paper, as technology has eliminated the need for people like her.

One day, Lena sees an article about a woman who was attacked and killed by lions in the city zoo. When she sees the unidentified woman’s picture in the paper, she realizes it’s someone she had met and talked to just a few days earlier while riding a city bus.

As she tries to understand why the woman, who was blind, would enter the lions’ den, Lena makes discoveries that question the nature of newspaper reporting at the Record. In the process, she faces personal challenges to break away from what she calls her “secondhand life.”

Amy Rowland worked as a transcriptionist for ten years at the New York Times. She currently works as an editor for the Book Review at the Times.

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