2014 nonfiction winner

Margalit Fox | The Riddle of the Labyrinth

Margalit FoxAbout the author
An award-winning journalist originally trained as a linguist, Margalit Fox is a senior writer for the New York Times. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in linguistics from Stony Brook University and a master’s in journalism from Columbia University. Her previous book, Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind, which takes readers to an isolated village whose residents use a signed language unlike any other in the world, has been called “fascinating” by the Washington Post, “astonishing” by the Associated Press and “masterly and accessible” by Nature. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, the writer and critic George Robinson. Visit her online at www.facebook.com/riddleofthelabyrinth.

About the book
A thrilling intellectual detective story which plots the decipherment of a mysterious ancient language and brings to light the story of Alice Kober, the obsessive, overlooked scholar who made the work possible.

Critics / Reviews
A New York Times Notable Book, 2013 “…a gripping and tightly focused scholarly mystery… a testament to what the human brain, or at least the rare human brain, is capable of.  […] Ms. Fox is attentive to touching traces of idiosyncratic humanity… [and] makes the complexities of linguistic scholarship accessible, weaving observations about language into the stories of her primary characters, two of whom met tragic and untimely ends.” – New York Times

“In Fox, the story has found a worthy Conan Doyle. […] she has a skilled… eye for the telling detail. […] Fox successfully executes the balancing act of translating and distilling a specialized field of knowledge for a general audience without oversimplifying or succumbing to the didacticism of a text book. [… She] draws us ever deeper into the labyrinth. As in a mystery novel, she is leaving the reader a trail of carefully placed clues, but she is also preparing for the grand entrance of her detective.” – Donovan Hohn, New York Times Book Review

“[Fox] … has cracked it, fashioning an intellectual puzzle into an engrossing detective story of driven personalities, hidden clues, perseverance and intuition. In the process, she has uncovered a remarkable woman who had been buried by history.” – Sunday Times UK