Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

UPDATED 05/09/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/09/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

Hilma and Meg Wolitzer


HILMA WOLITZER, 64, USED TO BE a housewife who wrote fiction at her kitchen table in Syosset, N.Y., with dogs and kids romping underfoot. Six novels later, although the rooftops of Manhattan are visible from the sunlit, book-lined apartment that she shares with her husband, Morton, a psychologist, Hilma has not forgotten her roots: a painted map of the town of Syosset has a place of honor in her guest bathroom.

One of the kids who was underfoot has grown up to be a novelist just like Mom: Meg Wolitzer, now 35 and married to journalist Richard Panek, lives and writes only a few blocks away from her mother's Upper East Side home, with her own 3-year-old son, Gabriel, in the next room. "There's a real discipline imposed by having children," notes Meg. "It makes you resourceful. I think having a baby can make you more productive."

"Can I borrow your baby?" Hilma jokes. Indeed, family and literature seem to be at the core of this mother-daughter duo who laughingly refer to themselves as "the literary world's answer to the Judds."

It was an accident that both Wolitzer's books were published at the same time, but they see it as a stroke of luck. Before embarking on their seven-city promotion tour that ends this week just before Mother's Day, Meg was looking forward to "sharing everything but hotel rooms." The only downside, teased Hilma: "Meg was afraid that I would knit mother-daughter reading outfits."

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