Francine Prose

Bestselling Novelist & Writer
Author of Reading Like A Writer
National Book Award Finalist

 

“Francine Prose is a keen observer, and her fiction is full of wryly delivered truths and sardonic witticisms that come from paying close attention to the world.” —The Atlantic

 

“Francine Prose has a knack for getting to the heart of human nature.” —USA Today

 

Hailed by Larry McMurtry "[o]ne of our finest writers," Francine Prose is the author of numerous novels, including My New American Life (HarperCollins, 2011); Goldengrove (2008), a profoundly moving novel about a young girl plunged into adult grief and obsession after the drowning death of her sister; A Changed Man (2005), for which she won the first Dayton Literary Peace Prize in fiction; and Blue Angel (2000), which was a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award. About My New American Life, Donna Seaman wrote, “Prose is dazzling in her sixteenth book of spiky fiction, a fast-flowing, bittersweet, brilliantly satirical immigrant story that subtly embodies the cultural complexity and political horrors of the Balkans and Bush-Cheney America.” A new novel, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932, is due in 2014.

BOMB Interview about My New American Life

Guardian Review of Goldengrove

Prose's nonfiction books include, Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife (HarperCollins, 2009); Reading Like A Writer (2006), a New York Times bestseller; The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women & the Artists They Inspired, a national bestseller; Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles, a biography of the painter for the Eminent Lives series; Sicilian Odyssey, a travel book; and; Gluttony, a meditation on a deadly sin. Her award-winning young adult novels include Bullyville and After. She is also the author of Hunters and Gatherers; Bigfoot Dreams and Primitive People; two story collections; and a collection of novellas, Guided Tours of Hell. Prose has also written four children's books and co-translated three volumes of fiction. Her stories, reviews, and essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Best American Short Stories, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Observer, Art News, The Yale Review, The New Republic, and numerous other publications.

NPR Anne Frank Article

NYT Review of Reading Like a Writer

A fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and a 1999 Director's Fellow of the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers, Prose is a contributing editor of Harper's Magazine, for which she has written such controversial essays as "Scent of A Woman's Ink" and "I Know Why the Caged Bird Can't Read," and Bomb magazine. She writes regularly on art for The Wall Street Journal.

In 2010, Prose was awarded the prestigious Washington University International Humanities Medal. Awarded biennally, the medal honors the lifetime work of a noted scholar, writer, or artist who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the world of letters or the arts. She has also been the receipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a 1989 Fulbright fellowship to the former Yugoslavia, two NEA grants, and a PEN translation prize.

NYTimes Review of Lovers at the Chameleon Club

Prose has taught at Harvard, Sarah Lawrence, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, The University of Arizona, The University of Utah, the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers Conferences. She currently teaches at Bard College. A film of her novel, Household Saints, was released in 1993. In 2009, Prose was elected into the Academy of Arts & Letters. She lives in New York City.

Book Browse Interview

The Atlantic Interview

About LOVERS AT THE CHAMELEON CLUB, PARIS 1932 (Novel, 2014)
A richly imagined and stunningly inventive literary masterpiece of love, art, and betrayal, exploring the genesis of evil, the unforeseen consequences of love, and the ultimate unreliability of storytelling itself. Paris in the 1920s shimmers with excitement, dissipation, and freedom. It is a place of intoxicating ambition, passion, art, and discontent, where louche jazz venues like the Chameleon Club draw expats, artists, libertines, and parvenus looking to indulge their true selves. It is at the Chameleon where the striking Lou Villars, an extraordinary athlete and scandalous cross-dressing lesbian, finds refuge among the club’s loyal denizens, including the rising Hungarian photographer Gabor Tsenyi, the socialite and art patron Baroness Lily de Rossignol; and the caustic American writer Lionel Maine. As the years pass, their fortunes—and the world itself—evolve. Lou falls desperately in love and finds success as a race car driver. Gabor builds his reputation with startlingly vivid and imaginative photographs, including a haunting portrait of Lou and her lover, which will resonate through all their lives. As the exuberant twenties give way to darker times, Lou experiences another metamorphosis— sparked by tumultuous events—that will warp her earnest desire for love and approval into something far more. 

About ANNE FRANK: THE BOOK, THE LIFE, THE AFTERLIFE (Nonfiction, 2009)
"What is it about Anne Frank and her novel-like diary that has given this deceptively simple work such a long and spectacular afterlife? Why and how, against all odds, did a young girl's chatty, innocent, prodigiously well-crafted book become an integral part of our culture, our history, our souls, and our civilization?" These are the questions that Francine Prose answers in Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, her powerful exploration of the life of Anne Frank and the phenomenon that is The Diary of Anne Frank. The book will appeal to, and reach, the widest possible audience—general readers, teachers and students, those of us who grew up with the diary, who want to find out more about it, and perhaps come to understand it in a deeper and different way.

About READING LIKE A WRITER (Nonfiction, 2006)
Distinguished novelist and critic Francine Prose inspires readers and writers alike with this inside look at how the professionals read…and write. Long before there were creative writing workshops and degrees, how did aspiring writers learn to write? By reading the work of their predecessors and contemporaries, says Francine Prose. In Reading Like A Writer, Prose invites you to sit by her side and take a guided tour of the tools and the tricks of the masters. She reads the work of the very best writers—Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Kafka, Austen, Dickens, Woolf, Chekhov—and discovers why these writers endure. She takes pleasure in the long and magnificent sentences of Philip Roth and the breath-taking paragraphs of Isaac Babel; she is deeply moved by the brilliant characterization in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. She looks to John Le Carré for a lesson in how to advance plot through dialogue, to Flannery O’Connor for the cunning use of the telling detail, and to James Joyce and Katherine Mansfield who offer clever examples of how to employ gesture to create character. She cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words, the raw material out of which literature is crafted. Written with passion, humor, and wisdom, Reading Like A Writer will inspire readers to return to literature with a fresh eye and an eager heart.