Rivka Galchen

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Rivka Galchen
Born Toronto, Canada
Notable works Atmospheric Disturbances (2009)
Notable awards William J. Saroyan International Prize for Fiction

Rivka Galchen (born April 19, 1976) is a Canadian-American writer. Her first novel, Atmospheric Disturbances, was published in 2008, has been translated into over 20 languages, and was awarded the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.

Early life[edit]

Rivka Galchen was born in Toronto, Canada. When she was an infant, her parents relocated to the United States, where she has lived ever since.[1] She lived in Norman, Oklahoma, from 1981 to 1994, where her father, Tzvi Gal-Chen, was a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, and her mother was a computer programmer at the National Severe Storms Laboratory.[2][3] Her parents, of Jewish descent, emigrated from Israel before her birth.

In 1994 Galchen began attending Princeton University, where she was an English major. In her sophomore year, she applied to an early-admissions program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.[2] She received her M.D. from Mount Sinai in 2003, with a focus in psychiatry.[4] After medical school, she received an MFA from Columbia University, where she was a Robert Bingham fellow.[5] She was a 2006 recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award for women writers.[4]

In early 2011, Galchen served as the Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fiction Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.[6]


Galchen has written for several national magazines, including The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, the New York Times Magazine, and The Believer.

Galchen's first novel, Atmospheric Disturbances, features a character with her father's name, Tzvi Gal-Chen. The character is a professor of meteorology and a fellow of the (fictional) Royal Academy of Meteorology, a literary move that was described as an "awfully risky" but successful invocation of "triple unreliability" by critic James Wood of The New Yorker.[7]

Atmospheric Disturbances was represented by the William Morris Agency, which reportedly chose it as one of two books to generate "buzz" for at the 2007 London Book Fair.[8] The novel was purchased by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and published in May 2008.[5] It received a significant amount of attention for a debut novel, including favorable reviews on the cover of The New York Times Book Review and by critic James Wood of The New Yorker.[7][9] Wood wrote that the novel was best understood as "a contribution to the Hamsun-Bernhard tradition of tragicomic first-person unreliability".[7] The novel was named a finalist for the Mercantile Library's 2008 John Sargent, Sr., First Novel Prize, and for the Canadian Writers' Trust's 2008 Fiction Prize.[10][11] On 20 October 2008, the novel was named a finalist for the 2008 Governor General's Award, one of Canada's most prestigious literary prizes.[12]

As of 2009, Galchen teaches writing at Columbia University.[13] She is a Contributing Editor at Harper's Magazine.

In 2010 Galchen was chosen by The New Yorker as one of the top 20 American writers under the age of 40.[14] Her short story "The Entire Northern Side Was Covered with Fire" was published in the "Summer Fiction" issue of the same magazine (June 14 & 21, 2010).

Galchen's short-story collection, American Innovations, was published in 2014 and received positive reviews from many outlets including The New Republic,[15] The New York Times,[16] Tablet,[17] the Globe and Mail[18] and NPR.[19] The collection has been longlisted for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Published works[edit]


  1. ^ "Heartbreak and loss lie beneath fantastic tale". The Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  2. ^ a b "Rivka Galchen, M.D. from Oklahoma Is the Latest Successor to Pynchon". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  3. ^ http://www.observer.com/2008/rivka-galchen-m-d-oklahome-latest-successor-pynchon?page=2
  4. ^ a b "The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Awards 2006". Archived from the original on 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  5. ^ a b "Macmillan: Atmospheric Disturbances". MacMillan Publishers. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  6. ^ "Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fiction Fellow, Class of Spring 2011". American Academy in Berlin. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c "She's Not Herself: A first novel about marriage and madness.". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  8. ^ Riding, Alan (2007-04-18). "Less Reading, More Schmoozing at London Book Fair". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  9. ^ Schillinger, Liesl (2008-07-13). "Who Do You Love?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  10. ^ "2008 John Sargent, Sr. First Novel Prize Finalists". The Mercantile Library for Fiction. Archived from the original on 2008-05-31. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  11. ^ "2008 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize Finalists". The Writers' Trust. Retrieved 2008-10-19. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Rivka Galchen". Columbia University. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  13. ^ "Not Exactly By The Book: rivka galchen reveals her convoluted route to authorship". The Columbia Spectator. Retrieved 2008-10-19. [dead link]
  14. ^ http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/20-under-40/writers-q-and-a
  15. ^ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117656/american-innovations-rivka-galchen-reviewed
  16. ^ Langer, Adam (May 7, 2014). "Short Stories That Riff Playfully on Some Enduring Forebears". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Kirsch, Adam (May 8, 2014). "Rivka Galchen Is Not Your Mommy". Tablet.
  18. ^ Gartner, Zsuzsi (May 16, 2014). "American Innovations: Canadian-born Rivka Galchen hits it out of the park again and again". The Globe and Mail.
  19. ^ Cheuse, Alan (May 14, 2014). "Everyday Life Is a Rich Mine Of Absurdity In 'American Innovations'". NPR.

External links[edit]


Interviews and profiles[edit]