Bette Howland is a writer of fiction and a literary critic who, with uncompromised, lyrical vision, creates detailed characterizations juxtaposed with her almost documentary portrayal of urban settings.
Howland’s work is marked by careful economy that combines lyrical prose with down-to-earth, though thoughtful, descriptions of the most basic of human situations. Her novel W-3 (1972) is a candid account of her attempted suicide and attendant, brief psychiatric hospitalization that exhibits surprisingly careful and meditative observations, even in the midst of emotional confusion. Her other books include, Blue in Chicago (1978), a subtle marriage of reportage and essay that explores the loss of humanity in urban environments, and Things to Come and Go: Three Stories (1983), depicting complex, interpersonal relationships between members of Chicago's Jewish community.
She has also published numerous essays and short stories. She is at work on a monograph, Jacob: A Life and a short novel, A Time for Kennedys. Howland was a visiting associate professor on the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago (1993-96).
Howland received a B.A. (1955) from the University of Chicago.