The Empathy Exams

Editorial reviews

The Empathy Exams

All of the essays are sophisticated investigations into the self-conscious way we construct stories about our identity, craft our “own mythology.”

Slate : The Flinch (April 08, 2014)

Jamison’s writing is often formally inventive, but never appears to be pursuing formal invention for its own sake; it’s always a case, rather, of the material demanding some radical style of treatment, like a condition with no obvious cure.

Slate : The Flinch (April 08, 2014)

There are subcutaneous connections running throughout, though they seem to result more from an organizing cluster of obsessions than any kind of willful effort to make a major statement about empathy.

In The Empathy Exams, Jamison’s essays do a rare thing: they show us — in many ways — what empathy means. They show us how we become, as Orwell wrote, “fellow-creatures.”

In this intelligent book, she shows us both the difficulty and the reward in noticing others’ messy lives, and thus suggests we can begin to help them, and ourselves, clean up.

It’s hard to imagine a stronger, more thoughtful voice emerging this year.

The Empathy Exams presents a brainy but heartfelt case for compassion even at the risk of sentimentality.

I prefer a little less moral outrage and solemnity in essays than I'm getting here, and a little more humor, balance, perspective and (why not?) stoicism.

I’m not sure I’m capable of recommending a book because it might make you a better person. But watching the philosopher in Ms. Jamison grapple with empathy is a heart-expanding exercise.