The English Experience: A Novel (Hardcover)
When professionally tired English department chair Jason Fitger is pressganged into chaperoning the idiotically named Experience: Abroad winterim program, it's just another indignity in a long career of them. Resigned to revisiting a place he never liked in the first place (England, ironically), it's up to Fitger to keep eleven youths alive and academically engaged for three whole weeks, even if it kills him. The latest from Schumacher completes a trilogy focusing on Fitger and his foibles, but it holds up on its own as an exploration of a specific undergrad experience: the study abroad program. And let me tell you, it's painfully, hilariously accurate. The tours, the essays, the misuse of grammar and idioms, the students ranging from distracted to drunk to far too intense - if you were lucky (or unlucky) enough to experience a study abroad program, whether as a student or teacher, The English Experience will have you howling.— Rachel Copeland
For those of you who loved Dear Committee Members, the classic epistolary novel told in letters of recommendation, beleaguered English Professor Fitger of the chronically underfunded Payne University is back, and this time, he’s been asked to lead a study abroad program in England. There’s a reason he was the director’s last choice! And while we don’t have the letters this time, we do get to read the students’ daily assignments, which tend towards the offbeat, perhaps due to one student’s offhand comment to classmates that Fitger likes his papers experimental. At equal turns poignant and hilarious, The English Experience shows that despite ridiculous odds, we will do whatever it takes for human connection.— Daniel Goldin
The bestselling author of Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirement completes her hilarious trilogy of academic mishap by chronicling the beleaguered Professor Fitger as he chaperones Payne University’s annual “Experience: Abroad” to London and beyond, with eleven undergrads in tow.
Jason Fitger may be the last faculty member the dean wants for the job, but he’s the only professor available to chaperone Payne University’s annual “Experience: Abroad” (he has long been on the record objecting to the absurd and gratuitous colon between the words) occurring during the three weeks of winter term. Among his charges are a claustrophobe with a juvenile detention record, a student who erroneously believes he is headed for the Caribbean, a pair of unreconciled lovers, a set of undifferentiated twins, and one young woman who has never been away from her cat before.
Through a sea of troubles—personal, institutional, and international—the gimlet-eyed, acid-tongued Fitger strives to navigate safe passage for all concerned, revealing much about the essential need for human connection and the sometimes surprising places in which it is found.
About the Author
JULIE SCHUMACHER grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, and graduated from Oberlin College and Cornell University, where she earned her MFA. Her first novel, The Body Is Water, was published by Soho Press in 1995 and was an ALA Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her 2014 novel, Dear Committee Members, won the Thurber Prize for American Humor; she is the first woman to have been so honored. She lives in St. Paul and is a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of Minnesota.
Named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by LitHub
"Julie Schumacher’s The English Experience is as wise and hilarious and heartbreaking novel as we’re likely to get this year. Even more impressive is the fact that she makes it all look so easy.”
—Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls and Somebody’s Fool
"The English Experience can be read as a very clever farce about shepherding clueless American students through their study abroad program, or as an careful dissection of the education system itself, depending on whether or not the reader has ever taught at a small liberal arts college. Either way, Julie Schumacher packs us in the suitcase and takes us along for the hilarious, harrowing ride."
—Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House