The Typist Book Jacket by Michael Knight
The Typist
A Novel
By Michael Knight
Cloth ISBN-13: 978-0-8021-1950-6
US $20.00
5 x 7 1/4 / 208 pp. / Aug. 2010

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“Reminiscent of The English Patient . . . Wistful and romantic”
       —Los Angeles Times

“Michael Knight tells the story of generals, war, and occupation through the eyes of a typist who proves himself to be the calm at the center of the storm. The result is this elegant, thoughtful, and resonant novel.”
       —Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto

The Typist is Knight’s best book yet. It reads with a combination of urgency and a quiet, rush-less pace to the novel's slow reveal. There is not a misstep, not a mislaid sentence. I believed and breathed every single word. This book awed me.”
       —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

“I loved The Typist. It is a beautiful portrait of a kind of walking pneumonia of the spirit that seeks and finds its own cure. It is also most impressive because of the setting—in a time far before Knight ever drew breath. It is true imagining at its finest.”
       —Richard Bausch, author of Peace

Read more reviews >


Rife with the crisp dialogue, complex characters, and stunning economy of language for which Michael Knight’s previous work has been praised, The Typist chronicles the early, halting rehabilitation of the grisly Pacific theater of the Second World War—specifically occupied Japan, where Western bureaucrats flooded into Tokyo, taking charge of their former enemies.

When Francis Vancleave (“Van”) joins the army in 1944, he has every reason to expect his term of service will pass uneventfully. After all, the war is winding down and Van’s one singular talent—typing ninety-five words a minute—keeps him off the battlefield and in General MacArthur’s busy Tokyo headquarters, where his days are filled with paperwork in triplicate and letters of dictation.

Little does Van know that the first year of the occupation will prove far more volatile for him than for the U.S. Army. Bunked with a troubled combat veteran cum-black marketer and recruited to babysit General MacArthur’s eight-year-old son, Van is suddenly tangled in the complex—and risky—personal lives of his compatriots. As he brushes shoulders with panpan girls and Communists on the bustling streets of Tokyo, Van struggles to uphold his convictions in the face of unexpected conflict—especially the startling news that reaches his barracks from his young war bride, a revelation that threatens Van with a kind of war wound he could never have anticipated.

Though grounded in the history of Japan’s reconstruction era in the wake of World War II, The Typist is unmistakably contemporary in its portrayal of military occupations and of individual experience in an immensely complicated time. At once spare and captivating, it is a book about unlikely kinships, good intentions gone awry, and the possibility of love.


“Michael Knight has the rare power to make a setting breathe, to invest it with a vitality that seems as authentic and intense as the pulse beats of his characters.” —Jonathan Miles, The New York Times Book Review

“Knight’s characters remain touchingly human, thanks to his subtle, if sardonic, sense of humor and his essential authorial decency.” —Amanda Heller, The Boston Globe

“Knight’s talent is in the details, all the wonderful little moments he hands us along the way.” —USA Today

Michael Knight Book Tour

Michael Knight
will be at the following locations continuing his
book tour for
The Typist.

October 13
Spring Hill College
Mobile, Alabama

October 18
Gilman School
Baltimore, Maryland

November 16
Stanford University
Palo Alto, California

Oprah's Book of the Week »

Oprah's Summer Reading List »

Huffington Post 10 Best Books of the Year »

Kansas City Star 100 Best Books of the Year

California Chronicle Top 100 Books of the Year

The Typist is now available in softback featuring a new companion short story, The Atom Bowl »

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©2011 Michael Knight

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