Free Press Archive


Excerpt from: Shadows Bright as Glass

Free Press, On sale: April 5, 2011
(pre-order on
Amy Ellis Nutt

Shadows Bright as Glass
An Accidental Artist and the Search for the Soul

From a Pulitzer Prize finalist, the beautifully written account of one man’s extraordinary odyssey of recovering from a massive stroke to discover that he had become a dramatically different person, reborn as a compulsive and brilliant artist
One day in 1988, when Jon Sarkin was playing golf, a tiny blood vessel deep inside his brain suddenly shifted, rubbing up against his acoustic nerve. He felt, as he recalls, “that my brain just twisted. Any noise now caused excruciating pain inside his head, and after months of suffering, he felt he wanted to die. Resorting to radical deep-brain surgery, during recovery he suffered a major stroke, and when he awoke, he was a new man, even though he retained almost complete memory of his prior self. Once a calm, meticulous chiropractor, he was suddenly highly exuberant and volatile, and possessed with a manic desire to create art. Making art became his bridge to life, and Sarkin is now an acclaimed artist who exhibits at some of the country’s most prestigious venues. His wife and children have stood by him, and he has fashioned a new life, a new self, amid the shards of his past.

Amy Ellis Nutt interweaves Sarkin’s story with lyrical and wonderfully accessible accounts of fascinating findings in brain science that illuminate the mysteries of what makes us who we are. Might we all have a brilliant artist inside us? If our self can be so altered, can we be said to have a soul? At once wrenching and inspiring, this is a story of the remarkable human capacity to overcome the most daunting of obstacles.


Amy Ellis Nutt has been a writer at The Newark Star-Ledger for ten years. She has won numerous national awards for newspaper writing and was a finalist for the Pulitizer Prize in feature writing for her series about Jon Sarkin. She holds two Masters degrees, one in philosophy from M.I.T., and one in journalism from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in New Jersey.
On sale: April tk, 2011
Free Press
Biography and Autobiography
6 x 9, 288 pages
Images throughout
Carton quantity: 20
$26.00 hardcover
$34.00 in Canada

Other format:
eBook: 9781439150078

Pre-order on


Pulitzer Finalist: The Accidental Artist

This article on Jon Sarkin was a Pulitzer finalist.  The link below will take you to a flash-interactive website.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger has published “The Accidental Artist,” reporter Amy Ellis Nutt’s narrative portrait of Sarkin’s post-stroke creative life, with accompanying video, photography, diagrams and explanatory text. Her book-length treatment, Shadows Bright as Glass, will appear in 2010 via Free Press. Be sure to check out the interview with Nutt about her story here.