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. In February 2019, we opened the doors to our new building in Downtown Brooklyn, creating a home for New York City’s literary community, and in July 2019 we launched this website to reach readers and writers around the globe.
We’re known for our special Literary Events, including our innovative panels, lectures, conversations, and performances. Since opening in Brooklyn, we’ve hosted authors such as Salman Rushdie, Mitchell S. Jackson, Maaza Mengiste, Kaitlyn Greenidge, Jacqueline Woodson, Rigoberto González, Geoff Dyer, Miriam Toews, Meg Wolitzer, Julia Alvarez, Deborah Eisenberg, Alexander Chee, Cristina Rivera Garza, Jonathan Lethem, Rachel Cusk, Domenico Starnone, and many, many more.
We provide Fellowships and hold Writing Workshops to support emerging writers. We host Reading Groups on classic and contemporary fiction to help readers discover their next favorite author. Our KidsRead / KidsWrite program provides free books and hosts events for New York City students from kindergarten through twelfth grade to get kids reading, as well as summer writing workshops for budding authors. And we recognize the best in the world of fiction through our annual Awards.
In our new home in Brooklyn we also run an independent Bookstore, featuring everything from the latest bestseller to hard-to-find works in translation. Our welcoming Café & Bar is a place where readers, writers, and the wider community can gather to eat or drink and discuss the latest in literature. The Bookstore and Café & Bar are open to the public and their proceeds go to support our nonprofit programs.
The Center for Fiction is also an important piece of New York City History, and we continue to build our renowned circulating Library collection, begun in 1821 by New York City merchants before the advent of the public library system. Our Library features a lounge, reading rooms, and outdoor terrace where members can gather amongst our collection of historic and rare finds as well as the latest acquisitions.
Writers of all genres and people at all stages of their career are also welcome to join our Writers Studio, located in a beautiful, quiet space on our sunlit second floor with private desks and other amenities for members.
The Center for Fiction, founded in 1821 as the Mercantile Library, is the only organization in the United States devoted solely to the vital art of fiction.
The mission of The Center for Fiction is to encourage people to read and value fiction and to support and celebrate its creation and enjoyment. With all our resources, including our exceptional book collection, our expanding website, and our ever-growing array of creative programs, we seek to serve the reading public, to build a larger audience for fiction, and to create a place where readers and writers can share their passion for literature.
Founded eighty-two years before the New York Public Library began, The Center for Fiction has played a vital role in the literary life of New York City for over 200 years.
When the Mercantile Library of New York opened its doors at 49 Fulton Street in February 1821, James Monroe had just begun his second term as president of the United States. New York City had either 123,000 or 152,000 inhabitants, depending on which census you believe, and the population of the entire United States numbered only 9.6 million. It was a year that marked the death of Napoleon, the coronation of George IV, and the entry of Missouri into the union as a slave state. American writer James Fenimore Cooper published The Spy while in England readers pored over Thomas de Quincey’s new book, Confessions of an Opium Eater. Keats died and Baudelaire was born.