The Book That Made Me a Reader and a Writer

Bonnie Nadzam on a Biography of Helen Keller

In this new edition of  The Book That Made Me a Reader, Bonnie Nadzam, the winner of our 2011 First Novel Prize, discusses the influence a biography of Helen Keller had on her life and how she learned words can be as slippery as water.  

"Maybe it’s instructive that I more or less recall the book but not the exact title or author of the book. It was a YA biography of Helen Keller, given to me in second grade by Sister Therese at what was then called St. Ann’s School, in Cleveland, Ohio." READ

Bonnie Nadzam will appear on the Center's panel, Sexism in the Literary World, on October 25th with Porochista Khakpour, Kavita Das, and Amy King.

A Tightrope Walker's Guide to Writing

by Stefan Merrill Block

How? It's just one simple word, but can be nearly impossible to answer, especially when it comes to writing. And so writers turn to metaphors to try to answer how they create a book—it's like driving, building a sand castle, and... being a tight-rope walker? In this new essay on craft, our writing instructor Stefan Merrill Block discusses the different ways we write, and the different ways we talk about writing. 


"450 pounds. That was the weight of the steel cable that Philippe Petit needed to string between The Twin Towers to pull off his legendary tightrope walk. The distance between the towers was vast, 138 feet, and, of course, Petit and his conspiring band of assistants had no permit for his high wire act." READ MORE

We Met Beckett at the Bar

by Barney Rosset

In this excerpt from the forthcoming collection of correspondence and ephemera Dear Mr. Beckett: Letters from the Publisher, Grove Press's infamous and revolutionary Barney Rosset describes the first time he met the future Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett. READ

Come along on Thursday, October 20th to celebrate the publication of this fascinating book. Joining us to discuss Rosset's personal and professional relationship with Beckett, in addition to Rosset's effect on literary publishing, are Paul Auster, Lois Oppenheim, Glenn Young, Astrid Myers-Rosset & Robert Solomon.

Author Picks: Five Deeply Strange Reads

by Matt Bell

Shifts in time, changelings, organic buildings, levitating grandmothers, and all things odd inhabit this list from Matt Bell, author of A Tree or a Person or a Wall. Matt has selected five books from small presses that investigate the strange and challenge our notions of reality.

"...I've always thrilled at the weirdness of others, at the strangely beautiful or strangely terrifying things they've allowed themselves to write down upon the page and then to expose to their readers." READ

In Andrew Gross's new book, the historical thriller The One Man, physicist Alfred Mendl is imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. Thousands of miles away in Washington D.C., intelligence officer Nathan Blum is given the assignment to try to break Mendl out, and with him, the information to help win the war for the Allies.

In this new post, Andrew Gross presents a list of his favorite novels on WWII that deal with the Holocaust and its aftermath.

JUNIOR EDITION: New Fiction for Younger Readers #31
by Celia McGee

JUNIOR EDITION: New Fiction for Younger Readers searches recent releases to discover the best kids' fiction out there. Writer, editor, and Center for Fiction board member Celia McGee covers four fantastic titles in this month's column: Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, Brightwood by Tania Unsworth, The Mighty Odds by Amy Ignatow, and The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan. We hope Celia's terrific choices inspire the kids in your life to pick up a book (and you may even find yourself flipping through these pages!) 


"If secret gardens were thought to have transitioned out with Constance Hodgson Burnett, Tania Unsworth didn’t get the memo. A good thing, too." READ

Family Histories 

by Roxana Robinson


The line between fact and fiction is often blurry, but it can be even more complicated when family is involved. In this essay, award-winning author Roxana Robinson writes about the fascinating subject of her uncle, Dr. William Beecher Scoville, a neurosurgeon who inspired a character in her novel Cost. Scoville was also the subject of his grandson Luke Dittrich's recent nonfiction book, Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets. Robinson explores the concept of building character from reality for both fiction and nonfiction, and the hold that family has on our imagination. READ






We hope you'll join us for our Annual Awards Dinner on December 6th. Jonathan Lethem will present Eric Simonoff with the Maxwell E. Perkins Award. And last year's First Novel Prize recipient, Viet Thanh Nguyen, will announce this year's winner. 


find out MORe & purchase tickets 


The Center for Fiction is the only nonprofit literary organization in the U.S. solely dedicated to celebrating fiction, and we work every day to connect readers and writers. 

READ more 


Visit Us 


17 East 47th Street

New York, NY 10017