Jennifer Bort Yacovissi

Jennifer Bort Yacovissi grew up in Bethesda, MD, just a bit farther up the hill from Washington, DC, where her debut novel, Up the Hill to Home, takes place. The novel is a fictionalized account of her mother's family in DC from the Civil War to the Great Depression. In addition to writing and reading historical and contemporary literary fiction, Jenny reviews for both the Independent and the Historical Novel Society. She owns a small project-management and engineering consulting firm, and enjoys gardening and being on the water. Jenny lives with her husband, Jim, in Crownsville, MD. Click here to learn more about the families in Up the Hill to Home and to see photos and artifacts from their lives.


120 entries by Jennifer Bort Yacovissi

Book Review

This weighty homage seeks to spark a renaissance in the 19th-century author’s readership.

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The master storyteller is back with a rollicking road trip that nonetheless wrestles with thorny moral questions.

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A master of understated storytelling offers her insights on the craft.

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Australia’s most celebrated novelist demands that we stop ignoring climate change, but it’s a repetitive lecture.

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Notes on Grief

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Both of-the-moment and timeless, this slim volume captures the essence of mourning.

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The virtual 2021 Washington Writers Conference Zooms into the history books.

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These selected works showcase the late author’s wit, insight, and never-boring exploration of how she fit into everything.

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The Souvenir Museum: Stories

By Elizabeth McCracken

Family lies at the center of these insightful, acerbic, witty tales told by a master of the form.

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First Person Singular: Stories

By Haruki Murakami

For better or worse, the author’s latest collection is stamped with his trademark surrealism, musical taste, and go-to point of view.

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Unmaking the Presidency

By Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes

America’s current “I dare you” commander-in-chief underscores how completely the position hinges on the noble intent of its holder.

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Ordinary Girls

By Jaquira Díaz

A scalding, extraordinary debut by a talented young author.

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On the Plain of Snakes

By Paul Theroux

The legendary travel writer takes a harrowing trip deep into the mysteries and miseries of Spanish-speaking North America.

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In her sophomore effort, the author tells a deeply humane tale of love and faith.

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Make It Scream, Make It Burn

By Leslie Jamison

Another collection of fearless, closely observed, and — yes — empathetic essays from a master of the form.

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The Boy in the Field: A Novel

By Margot Livesey

Grace and decency suffuse this quiet mystery, offering balm to the battered reader.

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A GOP strategist who helped create the monster now admits the error of his ways.

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Follow along as the political satirist draws her zany cast of characters from the world’s worst reality show.

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Humankind: A Hopeful History

By Rutger Bregman

This book makes a compelling and much-needed argument for the innate decency of humans.

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The author’s signature intimate portraits are drawn against eerily familiar national protests.

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This fact-packed look at the study of dendrochronology is a rollicking good read.

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A fresh reminder of the wrongheaded outcomes that result when science is thwarted by politics.

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What happens when you can no longer find them?

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A wide-ranging search for meaning in the face of an uncaring universe.

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This part-scholarship, part-memoir debut explores the many charges leveled at unruly ladies through the ages.

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Well, 2020 is a wash. Let’s support each other until we can all try again next year.

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An affecting reflection from the writer who made herself heard above the cacophony of men explaining things.

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Sick in bed, the author curls up with some disquieting reading.

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The author deploys savage wit but neglects to bring her warm, humane voice to this oh-so-dark comedy.

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America’s current “I dare you” commander-in-chief underscores how completely the position hinges on the noble intent of its holder.

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Coventry: Essays

By Rachel Cusk

Autobiographical pieces form the captivating, frustrating heart of this collection.

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Ordinary Girls: A Memoir

By Jaquira Díaz

A scalding, extraordinary debut by a talented young author.

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The legendary travel writer takes a harrowing trip deep into the mysteries and miseries of Spanish-speaking North America.

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Grand Union: Stories

By Zadie Smith

From post-sea-rise humanity to the mind of God stuck in a creative slump, this sharp-eyed collection offers no easy answers.

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Celebrating DC sports while missing their biggest fan.

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Another collection of fearless, closely observed, and — yes — empathetic essays from a master of the form.

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Encountering raptors and royalty on a recent Scottish sojourn.

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The Catholic School: A Novel

By Edoardo Albinati; translated by Antony Shugaar

What might have been an engaging “fictionalized memoir" is buried under reams of self-indulgent, misogynistic lecturing.

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Our author gets a bit lost in her memories of vacations gone by...

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The longtime novelist tackles a range of topics in this insightful essay collection.

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A looming one-year anniversary that no one will celebrate

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Laughing Shall I Die

By Tom Shippey

Being fearless in battle was important, but shuffling bravely off the mortal coil mattered more.

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The Restless Wave

By John McCain and Mark Salter

The senator reminds us how our political system is supposed to work, and that compromise is not, in fact, a dirty word.

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The House of the Pain of Others: Chronicle of a Small Genocide

By Julián Herbert; translated by Christina MacSweeney

Recounting a little-known massacre of Chinese immigrants in Mexico.

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The author considers her path out of the workaday world.

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No need to fear being scolded in this understanding, revealing look into the insidiousness of partiality.

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Enlightenment Now

By Steven Pinker

Don’t buy into the gloom and doom, the author argues. Things are better than they’ve ever been.

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Sure, it’s a thing. I’m just not very good at it.

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Landfall: A Novel

By Thomas Mallon

This fictional tale of the Bush administration lacks many things — chief among them, a point.

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A poet finds endless enchantment in the everyday.

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Judging for the NBCC Leonard Prize often makes for the year’s best reading.

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Island of the Blue Foxes

By Stephen R. Bown

The curious tale of an ambitious sea voyage spent mostly on dry land.

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A look back at the pages I’ve perused these past 12 months.

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It wasn’t Darwin’s fault that he didn’t have access to fully sequenced genomes.

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A timely reminder that saying you’re going to vote isn’t the same as voting.

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Will readers follow when a writer veers too far off course?

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An elder statesmen of the news media issues a call to arms, reminding journalists they truly can make a difference.

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What to read when it’s time to get away

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The author delivers his third gorgeous and savage story, a native son’s continuing critique of the American myth.

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After a friend is murdered, the author glares at her novel-in-progress and thinks, “What’s the point?”

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These stories work better separately than in the aggregate, but they’re still appropriately disturbing.

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Finding the best way to honor the life of a lifelong friend

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Being fearless in battle was important, but shuffling bravely off the mortal coil mattered more.

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The senator reminds us how our political system is supposed to work, and that compromise is not, in fact, a dirty word.

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In this Year of Writing, our intrepid author attempts to clear a spot — on the table, on the calendar, and in her brain — to get some work done.

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Rising Star

By David J. Garrow

An exhaustive dissection of virtually every experience that went into shaping our 44th president.

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Helping out in the writing community pays dividends all around.

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A candid, kid-friendly history of the fight for women’s rights.

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Deeper into her Year of Writing, our author seeks feedback from people and advice books.

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Don’t buy into the gloom and doom, the author argues. Things are better than they’ve ever been.

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The mind of a scientist, the heart of a philosopher, and the soul of a poet are all captured in this slim journal.

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In this year of writing, the author vows to up her game.

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In 2018, all our intrepid columnist wants is a window seat, a few books, and a laptop.

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The curious tale of an ambitious sea voyage spent mostly on dry land.

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Scaling (or not) the mountain that is my TBR stack

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The cartoonist serves as a happy, helpful tour guide through her favorite place on earth.

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Peter Ginna and a wide cast of contributors help to answer that question

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Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

By Carmen Maria Machado

This impressive debut collection features tightly wrapped tales that combine a sense of the everyday and otherworldly dread.

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Overload: Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News

By Bob Schieffer with H. Andrew Schwartz

The veteran journalist offers a handbook for informed citizens and considers how we can all do better next time.

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The cathartic laugh/cry we all need, even if it’s painful.

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Set aside expectations of a conventional narrative in this unlikely combination of gangsters, strip clubs, and classical dance.

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The Ninth Hour: A Novel

By Alice McDermott

A deceptively quiet story that illuminates the profundity of everyday life.

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These gorgeous little book-length essays showcase compelling writing on an expanding array of the everyday.

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A captivating look at dueling theories on the origin and adaptability of species.

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Language shifts in real time.

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The decades-long fight for supremacy between two mammoth freighter lines.

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The Shark Club: A Novel

By Ann Kidd Taylor

This charming beach read delivers a memorable 6-year-old protagonist and less-than-memorable supporting characters.

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Like Mitch McConnell, you’ll laugh so hard that milk shoots out your nose.

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G-Man: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel

By Stephen Hunter

Guts, guns, and gangsters are all on display in this latest installment of the popular series.

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Publishers forgo fine-tuning at their peril

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Recapping the fifth-annual Washington Writers Conference

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An exhaustive dissection of virtually every experience that went into shaping our 44th president.

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Part biography, part history, part homage to manly men in the mercenary service of colonial overreach.

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Dark at the Crossing: A Novel

By Elliot Ackerman

In the murkiness of war, the good guys and bad guys are often interchangeable.

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The Guineveres: A Novel

By Sarah Domet

This promising debut with a curious premise doesn’t quite deliver.

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He may no longer be a household name, but after reading this captivating bio/memoir, you’ll never forget MacKinlay Kantor.