Promise Whittaker, the diminutive but decisive acting director of the National Museum of Asian Art, is pregnant again - and that's just the beginning of her difficulties. Her mentor, the previous director, suddenly walked away from his job with no explanation, and now is on a dig somewhere in the Taklamakan desert. Her favourite curator has dropped their newest treasure, a bowl once owned by Thomas Jefferson, during the ceremony celebrating its acquisition. Another colleague, desperate for a son, has been embezzling from the museum to pay for her fertility treatments. And her far too handsome, far too elusive ancillary director is clearly up to no good. Confronting challenge after challenge at work and at home, Promise is one of the most offbeat, original, winning characters in recent fiction. The Bowl Is Already Broken is all brains, all soul, and all heart - brimming with ideas, provocative, and deeply satisfying.
Mary Kay Zuravleff is the author of The Frequency of Souls. A former editor of books and exhibition texts for the Smithsonian Institution, she lives with her family in Washington, DC.