Elisa Albert

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Elisa Albert
Albert at the 2015 Texas Book Festival
Albert at the 2015 Texas Book Festival
Born (1978-07-02) July 2, 1978 (age 40)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationNovelist, Essayist
GenreLiterary fiction

Elisa Albert (born July 2, 1978) is the author of the short story collection How this Night is Different (Free Press, 2006), the novels The Book of Dahlia (Free Press, 2008) and After Birth (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015), and an anthology, Freud's Blind Spot: Writers on Siblings (Free Press, 2010).

Albert is a recipient of the Moment Magazine Emerging Writer Awards, given to a writer whose work deals with themes that would be of interest to millions of Jewish readers.[1][2] In 2009, she was a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize, which recognizes the unique role of writers in the transmission of Jewish experience.[3][4]

Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Tin House, Post Road (magazine), Gulf Coast (magazine), Commentary (magazine), Salon (website), Tablet (magazine), Los Angeles Review of Books, The Believer (magazine), The Rumpus, Time Magazine, and on NPR.

Early life[edit]

Albert was raised in an observant Jewish home with two older brothers in Los Angeles. She attended Westlake School for Girls and later Harvard-Westlake School, where she wrote a column for the school newspaper called "Phat Albert."[5] She studied creative writing and women's studies at Brandeis University. She received her MFA from Columbia University in 2004.[6]

Albert has taught creative writing at Columbia University's School of the Arts and The College of Saint Rose in Albany.[7] She received a residency at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Netherlands in 2010.[8]


Albert's first book, How this Night is Different,[9] for which she was awarded The Moment Magazine Emerging Writer Award, is a collection of stories published by Free Press in 2006. Publishers Weekly said, "these 10 stories by debut writer Albert explore traditional Jewish rituals with youthful, irreverent exuberance as her characters transition into marriage and child-rearing."[10] A reviewer in Lilith Magazine wrote, "Even if Elisa Albert had not chosen to end her collection with a love letter to Philip Roth, one could read her audacious debut as just that."[11]

Her first novel, The Book of Dahlia,[12] was published in 2008 by Free Press and was a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize.[13] Karen Russell praises Albert's unique abilities as a writer, saying, "Albert writes about a twenty-nine year old woman dying of brain cancer, structuring the book around the cheesy aphorisms from a self-help guide, and if that set-up doesn’t sound like an obvious source of comedy, you’ve got to watch Albert at work."[14] The New Yorker said, "Albert writes with the black humor of Lorrie Moore and a pathos that is uniquely her own, all the more blistering for being slyly invoked."[15] Entertainment Weekly selected the book as one of the ten best novels of 2008 and said, "What begins as a darkly funny novel develops quickly into a genuine tragedy, though it's unlike any you've read before."[16]

In 2010, Albert edited Freud's Blind Spot,[17] an anthology of essays by other writers on the subject of sibling relationships. It was published in 2010 by Free Press. Contributing writers included Etgar Keret, Jill Soloway, Steve Almond, Victor LaValle, Peter Orner, Lauren Grodstein, Rebecca Wolff, and Joanna Hershon.

In February 2015, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published Albert's second novel, After Birth.[18] Publishers Weekly praised Albert for it, saying she, "applies a blistering tone to modern motherhood in this cri de coeur of a novel...In lesser hands, Ari might be unlikable, but Albert imbues her with searing honesty and dark humor, and the result is a fascinating protagonist for this rich novel."[19] Via Twitter, Emily Gould declared, "This book takes your essay about 'likable female characters,' writes FUCK YOU on it in menstrual blood, then sets it on fire."[20]

Other writing[edit]

Albert has contributed essays to several anthologies, including The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt, Sugar In My Bowl, Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists, How To Spell Chanukkah, Body Outlaws, and Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York.

Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Tin House, Post Road (magazine), Gulf Coast (magazine), Commentary (magazine), Salon (website), Tablet (magazine), Los Angeles Review of Books, The Believer (magazine), The Rumpus, Time Magazine, and on NPR.


  1. ^ "Center for Creative Change". Moment Magazine Center for Creative Change. Moment Magazine. 2013. Retrieved Dec 5, 2014.
  2. ^ "Moment Magazine Emerging Writer Awards" (PDF). Moment Magazine. Moment Magazine. 2006. Retrieved Dec 5, 2014.
  3. ^ "The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature". Jewish Book Council. Jewish Book Council. 2014. Retrieved Dec 5, 2014.
  4. ^ "Meet the Sami Rohr Prize Finalist...Elisa Albert". Jewish Book Council. Jewish Book Council. Feb 5, 2009. Retrieved Dec 5, 2014.
  5. ^ Shayna Freisleben (April 22, 2008). "Alumna Discusses New Fiction Book". Harvard Westlake Chronicle. Harvard Westlake. Retrieved Dec 5, 2014.
  6. ^ "Elisa Albert '00". Brandeis University Department of English. Brandeis University. 2011. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
  7. ^ Bolton, Rachel (September 15, 2014). "Pine Hills Review Launch". The Chronicle. Albany, NY. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  8. ^ "Elisa Albert '00". Brandeis University Department of English. Brandeis University. 2011. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
  9. ^ Albert, Elisa (2006). How This Night is Different. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 224. ISBN 9780743291286. Retrieved Oct 8, 2014.
  10. ^ "Elisa Albert '00". Publisher's Weekly. Publishers Weekly. 2006. Retrieved Dec 5, 2014.
  11. ^ Kilstein, Liz (Fall 2006). "How This Debut Is Different". Lilith Magazine. New York, New York. Retrieved Oct 8, 2014.
  12. ^ Albert, Elisa (2008). The Book Of Dahlia. New York, New York: Free Press/Simon and Schuster. p. 288. ISBN 0743291301. Retrieved Oct 8, 2014.
  13. ^ "Sami Rohr Prize 2009". Jewish Book Council. Jewish Book Council. 2009. Retrieved Oct 8, 2014.
  14. ^ "FUNBRUARY: Karen Russell on Elisa Albert". McNally Jackson Bookmongers. Feb 1, 2011. Retrieved Dec 5, 2014.
  15. ^ "The Book Of Dahlia". The New Yorker. New York, New York. March 24, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
  16. ^ Reese, Jennifer (Dec 15, 2008). "Best and Worst of 2008: Best Fiction". Entertainment Weekly. New York, New York: Time Inc. Retrieved Oct 8, 2014.
  17. ^ Albert, Elisa (2010). Freud’s Blind Spot: 23 Original Essays on Cherished, Estranged, Lost, Hurtful, Hopeful, Complicated Siblings. New York, New York: Free Press/Simon and Schuster. p. 273. ISBN 1439154724. Retrieved Oct 8, 2014.
  18. ^ Albert, Elisa (Feb 17, 2015). After Birth. New York, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 208. ISBN 0544273737. Retrieved Oct 8, 2014.
  19. ^ "After Birth". Publisher's Weekly. Publisher's Weekly. 2014. Retrieved Dec 5, 2014.
  20. ^ Gould, Emily (July 13, 2014). "@EmilyGould". Twitter. Twitter. Retrieved October 8, 2014.

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