Deborah Eisenberg

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Deborah Eisenberg
Born (1945-11-20) November 20, 1945 (age 72)
Winnetka, Illinois,[1] United States
Occupation Short-story writer, actress, teacher
Alma mater Marlboro College; The New School[2]
Notable awards
Partner Wallace Shawn[3]

Deborah Eisenberg (born November 20, 1945) is an American short-story writer, actress and teacher. She is a professor of writing at Columbia University.[4]

Early life[edit]

Eisenberg was born in Winnetka, Illinois. Her family was Jewish.[2] She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois, and moved to New York City in the late 1960s.


Eisenberg was an editorial assistant at The New York Review of Books in 1973.[5] She taught at the University of Virginia from 1994 until 2011, when she accepted a teaching position at Columbia University's MFA writing program.


Eisenberg has written four collections of stories: Transactions in a Foreign Currency (1986), Under the 82nd Airborne (1992), All Around Atlantis (1997), and Twilight of the Superheroes (2006). Ben Marcus, reviewing Twilight of the Superheroes for The New York Times Book Review, called Eisenberg "one of the most important fiction writers now at work. This work is great."[6] Her first two-story collections were republished in one volume as The Work (So Far) of Deborah Eisenberg (1997).[7] All four short-story collections were reprinted in 2010 in The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg (2010).[8]

She has also written a play, Pastorale, which was produced at Second Stage in New York City in 1982. Eisenberg has written for such magazines as The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and The Yale Review.[7]


Eisenberg in 2009

Eisenberg was the recipient of the Rea Award for the Short Story in the year 2000, an award granted for significant contribution to the short story form. She has also been the recipient of such awards as a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the O. Henry Awards.[9]

In 2007, Eisenberg was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Letters,[1] and in 2009 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.[10] She won the 2011 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg.[11]

Eisenberg received the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story in May 2015.[12]

PEN controversy[edit]

In April 2015, in an exchange with American PEN’s Executive Director Suzanne Nossel published in The Intercept by Glenn Greenwald,[13] Eisenberg criticized PEN’s decision to bestow its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo instead of to "Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras."[13] Writers Michael Moynihan, Ophelia Benson and Katha Pollitt criticized her for comparing Charlie Hebdo to the Nazi publication Der Stürmer[14][15][16] while Jacob Siegel said she had put "dead cartoonists on trial".[17]

Joining Eisenberg in her protest of PEN’s award ceremony were Peter Carey, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi.[18] In addition, 145 writers—including Junot Diaz, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates and Michael Cunningham—signed a letter protesting PEN’s decision. While calling the murders in the Charlie Hedbo offices "sickening and tragic," the letter goes on to say, "PEN is not simply conveying support for freedom of expression but also valorizing selectively offensive material: material that intensifies the anti-Islamic, anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world."[19]

Personal life[edit]

Her longtime companion is actor-writer Wallace Shawn.[3] Eisenberg lives in New York City.[20][not in citation given]


Story collections[edit]



  • Ken Heyman (1988). Hipshot: One-Handed, Auto-Focus Photographs by a Master Photographer. Foreword Eisenberg. Aperture. 
  • Air: 24 Hours. paintings by Jennifer Bartlett (Text by Eisenberg). H.N. Abrams. 1994. 
  • Michael John LaChiusa (2003). Little Fish. (Short Story Deborah Eisenberg). Dramatists Play Service, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8222-1973-6. 
  • Francine Prose, Mark Hussey, eds. (2004). "On Mrs. Dalloway". The Mrs. Dalloway Reader. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-15-603015-1. 

Short stories[edit]


  • William Miller Abrahams, ed. (1995). Prize stories 1995: the O. Henry awards. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-47672-0. 
  • Richard Ford, ed. (2007). The New Granta Book of the American Short Story. Granta Books. ISBN 978-1-86207-847-5. 
  • Laura Furman, ed. (2006). The O. Henry prize stories, Volume 2008. Anchor Books. ISBN 978-1-4000-9539-1. 


  1. ^ a b "The American Academy of Arts and Letters Elects Nine New Members". American Academy of Arts and Letters. March 13, 2007. Archived from the original on June 17, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011. Writer Deborah Eisenberg was born in Winnetka, Illinois 
  2. ^ a b Smith, Dinitia (February 28, 2006). "Deborah Eisenberg Gets Attention With a Fifth Book of Stories". The New York Times. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Steindler, Catherine (Spring 2013). "Interviews, Deborah Eisenberg, The Art of Fiction No. 218". The Paris Review. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  4. ^ Deborah Eisenberg faculty page, Columbia University School of the Arts
  5. ^ "The Amazing Human Launching Pads". New York. September 26, 2010. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  6. ^ Marcus, Ben (February 12, 2006). "Enigma Machines". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Deborah Eisenberg". The Rea Award for the Short Story. 2000. 
  8. ^ Thompson, Jean (April 18, 2010). "Don't Have a Nice Day". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  9. ^ Ulin, David L. (September 10, 2013). "The Reading Life Looking at 'The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  10. ^ "Deborah Eisenberg". MacArthur Foundation. January 26, 2009. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  11. ^ Bosman, Julie (March 15, 2011). "Deborah Eisenberg Wins PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction". The New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Deborah Eisenberg wins Malamud prize for short fiction". Ynetnews. Associated Press. May 19, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  13. ^ a b Greenwald, Glenn (April 27, 2015). "Read the Letters and Comments of PEN Writers Protesting the Charlie Hebdo Award". The Intercept. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  14. ^ Moynihan, Michael (May 4, 2015). "America's Literary Elite Takes a Bold Stand Against Dead Journalists". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  15. ^ Benson, Ophelia (April 27, 2015). "Deborah Eisenberg gets Charlie Hebdo all wrong". Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  16. ^ Pollitt, Katha (April 30, 2015). "'Charlie Hebdo' Deserves Its Award for Courage in Free Expression. Here's Why". The Nation. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  17. ^ Siegel, Jacob (April 28, 2015). "Literati Sneer at Hebdo's Graves". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  18. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (April 26, 2015). "Six PEN Members Decline Gala After Award for Charlie Hedbo". The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  19. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (April 30, 2015). "145 Writers Sign Letter Protesting PEN Award to Charlie Hedbo". The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  20. ^ "Table of Contents". The New York Review of Books. July 14, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 

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