One of six children, Bausch was born April 18, 1945, into a devout Catholic family in which storytelling was prized. Educated at George Mason and the Iowa Writers' Workshop in Iowa City, Richard Bausch served in the United States Air Force late in the 1960s and worked as a musician and comedian before becoming a teacher of writing. Real Presence, his first novel, appeared in 1980. Focusing, as many of his subsequent novels do, on a family in crisis, it was compared by at least one critic to the work of Flannery O'Connor because of its religious subject matter and southern setting.
Yet as Bausch's career has progressed, he has come to be seen chiefly as a masterful inventor of his characters' circumstances and responses. One critic praises his "unerring eye for the confusions and surges of passion that roil throughout his characters' interactions." In the short novel Requisite Kindness (2004), for example, Bausch explores the regret and sorrow that attend a man caring for his dying mother: "There can be no use in worrying her, and even so he wants to say something, understands with a little transitory shock to his system what comfort he is in need of from her, even now."
Among Bausch's numerous books, several have earned particular notice. Take Me Back (1981), which was nominated for a PEN/Faulkner Award, tracks the evolution of a marriage between an alcoholic husband and a mentally ill wife. Mr. Field's Daughter (1989) charts equally complex interactions, between a father and the daughter now estranged from the husband with whom she had eloped. Two women separated by a hundred years anchor Hello to the Cannibals (2002); one is a Victorian Englishwoman named Mary Kingsley who escapes dull domestic life to travel in West Africa, and the other is a contemporary American who struggles to write a play about Kingsley.
In 2004 Bausch received a PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction. Bausch's additional awards include an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has also won the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Hello to the Cannibals: A Novel and been a finalist twice. His work has been widely anthologized and has appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, and other prominent magazines. He married Karen Miller, a photographer, in 1969; they have five children.
- Real Presence: A Novel (1980)
- Take Me Back: A Novel (1981)
- The Last Good Time: A Novel (1984)
- Spirits, and Other Stories (1987)
- Mr. Field's Daughter: A Novel (1989)
- The Fireman's Wife and Other Stories (1990)
- Violence: A Novel (1992)
- Rebel Powers: A Novel (1993)
- Rare and Endangered Species: A Novella and Stories (1994)
- Aren't You Happy for Me? and Other Stories (1995)
- Good Evening Mr. and Mrs. America, and All the Ships at Sea: A Novel (1996)
- The Selected Stories of Richard Bausch (1996)
- In the Night Season: A Novel (1998)
- Someone to Watch Over Me: Stories (1999)
- Hello to the Cannibals: A Novel (2002)
- The Stories of Richard Bausch (2003)
- Wives and Lovers: Three Short Novels (2004)
- Thanksgiving Night: A Novel (2006)
- Peace: A Novel (2008)
April 18, 1945 - Richard Bausch is born at Fort Benning, Georgia, into a devout Roman Catholic family. He has an identical twin, Robert Bausch.
1966 - Richard Bausch begins service in the United States Air Force as a survival instructor, a position he will hold until 1969.
May 3, 1969 - Richard Bausch marries Karen Miller, a photographer. The couple will have five children.
1973 - Richard Bausch earns a BA from George Mason University in Fairfax County, Virginia.
1975 - Richard Bausch earns an MFA in creative writing from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa.
1980 - Richard Bausch's first novel, Real Presence, is published.
September 20, 2003 - Richard Bausch wins the Library of Virginia Literary Award for fiction for Hello to the Cannibals: A Novel.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Howsare, E. Richard Bausch (1945– ). (2012, July 25). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Bausch_Richard_1945-.
- MLA Citation:
Howsare, Erika. "Richard Bausch (1945– )." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 25 Jul. 2012. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: June 16, 2009 | Last modified: July 25, 2012
Contributed by Erika Howsare, a writer and editor living near Charlottesville, Virginia.