Joan Silber has been a “writer’s writer” for several years, but she is finally breaking out to reach the larger reading public thanks to the success of her current novel-in-stories, Improvement (Counterpoint Press). It recently won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, and just last week Silber received the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. Fools (2013), a collection of six linked stories, is considered her best work (or at least it was until Improvement). Silber’s writing reminds many readers of Alice Munro; she is able to compress entire lives into stories and handles time in unusual ways that give her stories a unique structure. Each story is an artful MRI of her characters’ souls.