“‘Great writers are witnesses to the spirit of their age,’ Melissa Pritchard declares. And in her splendid collection of essays, A Solemn Pleasure, she bears witness to matters great and small, from the quotidian joys of a borrowed room in London to the life and example of Georgia O’Keeffe to the plight of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Art is for her ‘a form of active prayer,’ which leads her to journey both inward and outward, notably to Afghanistan, where the consequences of the war on terror become tragically clear. This is the spirit of our age, gracefully rendered in Pritchard’s essays, which will stand the test of time.”

Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa and author of The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War