Cynthia Ozick

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Cynthia Ozick
Born (1928-04-17) April 17, 1928 (age 94)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Notable awardsAmerican Academy of Arts and Letters, 1988
Cynthia Ozick signature.jpg

Cynthia Ozick (born April 17, 1928) is an American short story writer, novelist, and essayist.[1]


Cynthia Ozick was born in New York City, the second of two children. She moved to the Bronx with her Belarusian-Jewish parents from Hlusk, Belarus: Celia (née Regelson) and William Ozick, proprietors of the Park View Pharmacy in the Pelham Bay neighborhood.[2]

She attended Hunter College High School in Manhattan.[3] She earned her B.A. from New York University and went on to study at Ohio State University, where she completed an M.A.[2] in English literature, focusing on the novels of Henry James.[4]

She appears briefly in the film Town Bloody Hall, where she asks Norman Mailer with her signature wit and incisiveness, "in Advertisements for Myself you said, quote, 'A good novelist can do without everything but the remnant of his balls'. For years and years I’ve been wondering, Mr. Mailer, when you dip your balls in ink, what color ink is it?".[5]

Ozick was married to Bernard Hallote, a lawyer, until his death in 2017. Their daughter, Rachel Hallote, is a professor of history at SUNY Purchase and head of its Jewish studies program. Ozick is the niece of the Hebraist Abraham Regelson.[4]

Yale University has acquired her literary papers.[6] A forthcoming special issue of Studies in Jewish American Literature will examine her contributions to the art of non-fiction.[7]

Literary themes[edit]

Ozick's fiction and essays are often about Jewish American life, but she also writes about politics, history, and literary criticism. In addition, she has written and translated poetry.

Henry James occupies a central place in her fiction and nonfiction. The critic Adam Kirsch wrote that her "career-long agon with Henry James... reaches a kind of culmination in Foreign Bodies, her polemical rewriting of The Ambassadors."[8]

The Holocaust and its aftermath is also a dominant theme. For instance in "Who Owns Anne Frank?"[9] she writes that the diary's true meaning has been distorted and eviscerated "by blurb and stage, by shrewdness and naiveté, by cowardice and spirituality, by forgiveness and indifference."[10] Much of her work explores the disparaged self, the reconstruction of identity after immigration, trauma and movement from one class to another.[2]

Ozick says that writing is not a choice but "a kind of hallucinatory madness. You will do it no matter what. You can't not do it." She sees the "freedom in the delectable sense of making things up" as coexisting with the "torment" of writing.[11]

Awards and critical acclaim[edit]

In 1971, Ozick received the Edward Lewis Wallant Award and the National Jewish Book Award[12] for her short story collection, The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories.[13] For Bloodshed and Three Novellas, she received, in 1977, The National Jewish Book Award for Fiction.[12] In 1997, she received the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay for Fame and Folly. Four of her stories won first prize in the O. Henry competition.[3]

In 1986, she was selected as the first winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story. In 2000, she won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Quarrel & Quandary.[14] Her novel Heir to the Glimmering World (2004) (published as The Bear Boy in the United Kingdom) won high literary praise. Ozick was on the shortlist for the 2005 Man Booker International Prize, and in 2008 she was awarded the PEN/Nabokov Award and the PEN/Malamud Award, which was established by Bernard Malamud's family to honor excellence in the art of the short story. Her novel Foreign Bodies was shortlisted for the Orange Prize (2012) and the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize (2013).[15]

The novelist David Foster Wallace called Ozick one of the greatest living American writers.[16] She has been described as "the Athena of America's literary pantheon", the "Emily Dickinson of the Bronx", and "one of the most accomplished and graceful literary stylists of her time".[4]

Published works[edit]


  • Trust (1966)
  • The Cannibal Galaxy (1983)
  • The Messiah of Stockholm (1987)
  • The Puttermesser Papers (1997)
  • Heir to the Glimmering World (2004) (published in the United Kingdom in 2005 as The Bear Boy)
  • Foreign Bodies (2010)
  • Antiquities (2021)

Shorter fiction[edit]

Essay collections[edit]

  • All the World Wants the Jews Dead (1974)
  • Art and Ardor (1983)
  • Metaphor & Memory (1989)
  • What Henry James Knew and Other Essays on Writers (1993)
  • Fame & Folly: Essays (1996)
  • "SHE: Portrait of the Essay as a warm body" (1998)
  • Quarrel & Quandary (2000)
  • The Din in the Head: Essays (2006)
  • Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays (2016)
  • David Miller, ed. Letters of Intent: Selected Essays (2017)


  • Blue Light (1994)


  • A Cynthia Ozick Reader (1996)
  • The Complete Works of Isaac Babel (introduction 2001)
  • Fistfuls of Masterpieces[17]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Articles about Cynthia Ozick, The New York Times
  2. ^ a b c Brockes, Emma (2 July 2011). "A life in writing: Cynthia Ozick". The Guardian.
  3. ^ a b "Cynthia Ozick - Jewish Women's Archive". Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Profile: Cynthia Ozick". Archived from the original on Apr 23, 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2022.
  5. ^ "On Norman Mailer in the 1960s". TLS. Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  6. ^ "Cynthia Ozick papers".
  7. ^ "cfp | call for papers". Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  8. ^ Kirsch, Adam (2015). Rocket and Lightship: Essays on Literature and Ideas. Norton. p. 216. ISBN 978-0393243468.
  9. ^ "Who Owns Anne Frank?". The New Yorker. Sep 29, 1997. Retrieved Sep 2, 2022.
  10. ^ "Who Owns Anne Frank?". The New Yorker. 1997-09-29. Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  11. ^ "Profile: Cynthia Ozick - Hadassah Magazine". 28 February 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Past Winners". Jewish Book Council. Archived from the original on 2020-03-08. Retrieved 2020-01-19.
  13. ^ "The Edward Lewis Wallant Award | Section: "Past Recipients". The Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies". University of Hartford. Archived from the original on 2014-03-08. Retrieved 2017-09-23.
  14. ^ Brockes, Emma (4 July 2011). "A life in writing: Cynthia Ozick". Retrieved 12 January 2018 – via
  15. ^ "Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize 2013". Archived from the original on Nov 5, 2012. Retrieved Sep 2, 2022.
  16. ^ "Brief Interview with a Five Draft Man | Extra | Amherst College". Retrieved Sep 2, 2022.
  17. ^ "The New York Times: Book Review Search Article". Retrieved 12 January 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]