Jane Brox • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
An author fascinated by the fundamental aspects of life, Jane Brox has written about family, farmland, and light—all to great acclaim. She is a micro-historian with a farmer’s feel for the value of getting dirt under your fingernails to get to the heart of the matter. Using the modern technique of alternating and intertwining stories, Brox reports on silence as a means of reform in early penitentiaries (thought to be more humane than corporal or capital punishment) and as a means of spiritual development in the monastery.
Silence as means of redemption for criminals is largely a story of the dark side of silence. The prohibition against speaking revealed a deep need to give voice and to commune with others. It was being silenced rather than finding peace within silence: punishment, not reformation.
Brox leaves us to contemplate the interplay between quiet and community, between a silence born of deep listening and one born of wanting…