David Lazar (author)

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David Lazar
David Lazar.jpg
Born (1957-01-28) January 28, 1957 (age 64)
Brooklyn, New York
OccupationEssayist, editor, and professor
Alma materBennington College, Syracuse University, Stanford University, University of Houston
Literary movementCreative Nonfiction

David Lazar (born January 28, 1957) is an American writer and editor, primarily known as an essayist. Born in Brooklyn, NY, he has been involved in the development of "creative nonfiction" in the United States, creating graduate programs, writing theoretically about the essay, and mentoring and publishing many subsequent writers of note.[1]

Early life[edit]

Lazar was born in Brooklyn, New York to Leo Lazar (Lazarowitz) and Rhoda Lazar (née Statlend) and went to public schools, graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn.[2] He graduated from Bennington College, and completed master's degrees at Stanford University and Syracuse University,[3] before finishing his PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Houston in 1989, with, according to Phillip Lopate, the first doctorate in nonfiction writing in the U.S.[4]


In 1990, at Ohio University, where Lazar taught for sixteen years as an Assistant, Associate, then Full Professor, he established the nonfiction writing programs at the undergraduate, M.A. and PhD levels, one of the few doctoral programs in nonfiction writing in the U.S. at the time.  He also became, for eight years, Associate Editor of the Ohio Review, editing the special issue On Mentorship.[5] When the Ohio Review was shuttered, he founded the literary magazine Hotel Amerika in 2001, which continues toward its twentieth year.[6] In addition to inclusions in Best American Essays,[7] Best American Poetry, Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Anthology, Hotel Amerika has published special issues devoted to Transgenre literature, published in 2009,[8] the Aphorisms issue,[9] and its Epistolary issue.[10] Lazar is also the co-editor, with Patrick Madden, of 21st Century Essays, a book series published by Ohio State University Press focused entirely on the essay, the only such series in the U.S.[11] Titles in the series have included works by Phillip Lopate, Nicole Walker, Nicholas Delbanco, Catherine Wagner, Sophfronia Scott, Lina Ferreira, Paul Crenshaw, Chris Arthur, and many others. In 2006, Lazar began teaching at Columbia College Chicago, where he is currently Professor of Creative Writing.[12] He created the MFA and undergraduate programs in nonfiction writing at Columbia College.[13]


David Lazar has published three books of essays: The Body of Brooklyn (2003, University of Iowa Press),[14] Occasional Desire: Essays (2013, University of Nebraska Press)[15] and I'll Be Your Mirror: Essays and Aphorisms (2017, University of Nebraska Press).[16] His fourth book of essays, Celeste Holm Syndrome: On Character Actors from Hollywood's Golden Age, will be published by the University of Nebraska Press in September 2020. His books of prose poetry include Powder Town (2008, Pecan Grove Press)[17] and Who's Afraid of Helen of Troy (2016, Etruscan Press).[18]

As editor, he has published three highly regarded nonfiction anthologies: Truth in Nonfiction (2008, University of Iowa Press),[19] Essaying the Essay (2013, Welcome Table Press),[20] and, with Patrick Madden as co-editor, After Montaigne: Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays (2014, University of Georgia Press),[21] which won the Independent Publishers and Foreword Indiefab Book of the Year awards for the essay. With Kristen Iversen, he has edited Don't Look Now: Things We Wish We Hadn't Seen, essays by writers on what they wish they hadn't seen, to be published by Ohio State University Press.[22]

Lazar has published his essays and prose poetry in The Southwest Review, Black Clock, Gulf Coast, North Dakota Quarterly, Denver Quarterly, River Teeth, Essay Daily, The Normal School, The Bellingham Review and many anthologies, including Bending Genre, The Science of Story, Like Thunder: American Poets Respond to Violence, Short Flights 2, After Montaigne, etc.[23]



  1. ^ McCrary, Micah. "One Must Follow One's Bliss: Interviewing the Essay with David Lazar". Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  2. ^ The Body of Brooklyn. The University of Iowa Press. 16 November 2011. ISBN 978-1587293832.
  3. ^ "Book Launch for David Lazar's I'LL BE YOUR MIRROR". Unabridged Books.
  4. ^ D'Aoust, Renee. "One Must Follow One's Bliss: Interviewing the Essay with David Lazar". Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  5. ^ "CNF Conversations: An Interview With David Lazar". Writing. Life.
  6. ^ "Home". Hotel Amerika. Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  7. ^ "'Hotel Amerika' Essay Selected for Best American Essay Anthology". Columbia College Chicago. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Spring 2009 7:2". Hotel Amerika. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Spring 2011 9:2". Hotel Amerika. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Spring 2012 10:2". Hotel Amerika. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  11. ^ "The Ohio State University Press: 21st Century Essays". ohiostatepress.org. Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  12. ^ "List of Creative Writing Faculty, Columbia College Chicago".
  13. ^ McCrary, Micah. "One Must Follow One's Bliss: Interviewing the Essay with David Lazar". Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  14. ^ "The Body of Brooklyn". University of Iowa Press.
  15. ^ Lazar, David (September 2013). Occasional Desire: Essays. ISBN 978-0803246386.
  16. ^ Lazar, David (November 2017). I'll Be Your Mirror. ISBN 978-1496202062.
  17. ^ "David Lazar's Powder Town". Pecan Grove Press.
  18. ^ Lazar, David (2016). Who's Afraid of Helen of Troy. ISBN 978-0990322115.
  19. ^ Lazar, David (May 2008). Truth in Nonfiction. ISBN 978-1587296543.
  20. ^ Lazar, David (August 2014). Essaying the Essay. ISBN 978-0988592612.
  21. ^ Montaigne, Michel (2015). After Montaigne. ISBN 978-0820348155.
  22. ^ "Kristen Iversen". The Cincinnati Review. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  23. ^ "David Lazar - Faculty". Columbia College Chicago. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  24. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn. "Guggenheim fellows for 2015 are announced". latimes.com. Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  25. ^ "David Lazar / Faculty". Columbia College Chicago. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  26. ^ "AWP: Directory of Members". AWP. Retrieved 6 November 2019.