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Francine Prose

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Francine Prose
Prose at the 2012 Brooklyn Book Festival
Prose at the 2012 Brooklyn Book Festival
Born (1947-04-01) April 1, 1947 (age 77)
New York City, U.S.
Alma materRadcliffe College
GenreNovels, short stories, nonfiction

Francine Prose (born April 1, 1947) is an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and critic. She is a visiting professor of literature at Bard College, and was formerly president of PEN American Center.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Brooklyn, Prose graduated from Radcliffe College in 1968. She received the PEN Translation Prize in 1988 and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1991. Prose's novel The Glorious Ones has been adapted into a musical with the same title by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. It ran at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City in the fall of 2007.

In March 2007, Prose was chosen to succeed American writer Ron Chernow beginning in April to serve a one-year term as president of PEN American Center,[1][2] a New York City-based literary society of writers, editors and translators that works to advance literature, defend free expression, and foster international literary fellowship. In March 2008, Prose ran unopposed for a second one-year term as PEN American Center president.[3] That same month, London artist Sebastian Horsley had been denied entry into the United States and PEN president Prose subsequently invited Horsley to speak at PEN's annual festival of international literature in New York at the end of April 2008.[4] She was succeeded by philosopher and novelist Kwame Anthony Appiah as president of PEN in April 2009.[5][6]

Prose sat on the board of judges for the PEN/Newman's Own Award. Her novel, Blue Angel, a satire about sexual harassment on college campuses, was a finalist for the National Book Award. One of her novels, Household Saints, was adapted for a movie by Nancy Savoca.

Prose received the Rome Prize in 2006.[7]

Prose at the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival

In 2010, Prose received the Washington University International Humanities Medal. The medal, awarded biennially and accompanied by a cash prize of $25,000, is given to honor a person whose humanistic endeavors in scholarship, journalism, literature, or the arts have made a difference in the world. Other winners include Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk in 2006, journalist Michael Pollan in 2008, and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns in 2012.[8][9]

American PEN criticism[edit]

During the 2015 controversy regarding American PEN's decision to honor Charlie Hebdo with its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award, she, alongside Michael Ondaatje, Teju Cole, Peter Carey, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi, withdrew from the group's annual awards gala and signed a letter dissociating themselves from the award, stating that although the murders were "sickening and tragic," they did not believe that Charlie Hebdo's work deserved an award.[10][11] The letter was soon co-signed by more than 140 other PEN members.[12] Prose published an article in The Guardian justifying her position, stating that: "the narrative of the Charlie Hebdo murders—white Europeans killed in their offices by Muslim extremists—is one that feeds neatly into the cultural prejudices that have allowed our government to make so many disastrous mistakes in the Middle East."[13] Prose was criticized for her views by Katha Pollitt,[14] Alex Massie,[15] Michael C. Moynihan,[16] Nick Cohen[17] and others, most notably by Salman Rushdie, who in a letter to PEN described Prose and the five other authors who withdrew as fellow travellers of "fanatical Islam, which is highly organised, well funded, and which seeks to terrify us all, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, into a cowed silence."[18]

The New Yorker controversy[edit]

On January 7, 2018, in a Facebook post,[19] Prose accused the author Sadia Shepard of plagiarizing Mavis Gallant's "The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street", which had appeared in The New Yorker on December 14, 1963.[20] Shepard's piece had been published online by The New Yorker and was scheduled for release in the January 8, 2018 issue.[21] Though Shepard's story reimagines the original in a new context, with added detail and altered character dynamics, Prose contended that the similarities between the two stories constituted theft, writing in her original post that the story is a "scene by scene, plot-turn by plot-turn, gesture by gesture, line-of-dialogue by line-of-dialogue copy—the only major difference being that the main characters are Pakistanis in Connecticut during the Trump era instead of Canadians in post-WWII Geneva."[19][22] In a letter to The New Yorker, Prose maintained her original stance, asking, "Is it really acceptable to change the names and the identities of fictional characters and then claim the story as one's own original work? Why, then, do we bother with copyrights?"[23] Responding to Prose's accusation, Shepard acknowledged her debt to Gallant but maintained that her use of Gallant's story of self-exile in postwar Europe to explore the immigrant experience of Pakistani Muslims in today's America was justified.[24]



  • 1973: Judah the Pious, Atheneum (Macmillan reissue 1986 ISBN 0-8398-2913-2)
  • 1974: The Glorious Ones, Atheneum (Harper Perennial reissue 2007 ISBN 0-06-149384-8)
  • 1977: Marie Laveau, Berkley Publishing Corp. (ISBN 0-399-11873-X)
  • 1978: Animal Magnetism, G.P. Putnam's Sons. (ISBN 0-399-12160-9)
  • 1981: Household Saints, St. Martin's Press (ISBN 0-312-39341-5)
  • 1983: Hungry Hearts, Pantheon (ISBN 0-394-52767-4)
  • 1986: Bigfoot Dreams, Pantheon (ISBN 0-8050-4860-X)
  • 1992: Primitive People, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (ISBN 0-374-23722-0)
  • 1995: Hunters and Gatherers, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (ISBN 978-0-374-17371-5)
  • 2000: Blue Angel, Harper Perennial (ISBN 978-0-06-095371-3)
  • 2003: After, HarperCollins (ISBN 0-06-008082-5)
  • 2005: A Changed Man, HarperCollins (ISBN 0-06-019674-2) – winner of the 2006 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for fiction
  • 2007: Bullyville, HarperTeen (ISBN 978-0-06-057497-0)
  • 2008: Goldengrove, HarperCollins (ISBN 0-06-621411-4)
  • 2009: Touch, HarperTeen (ISBN 978-0-06-137517-0)
  • 2011: My New American Life, Harper (ISBN 978-0-06-171376-7)
  • 2012: The Turning, HarperTeen (ISBN 978-0-06-199966-6)
  • 2014: Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932, Harper (ISBN 978-0-06-171378-1)
  • 2016: Mister Monkey, Harper, (ISBN 978-0-06-239783-6)
  • 2021: The Vixen, Harper (ISBN 978-0-06-301214-1)

Short story collections[edit]

Children's picture books[edit]


Book reviews[edit]

Year Review article Work(s) reviewed
2005 — (April 17, 2005). "'The Peabody Sisters': Reflected Glory". New York Times. Archived from the original on May 29, 2015. Retrieved June 11, 2024. Marshall, Megan. The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism.
2010 — (January 2010). "You Got Eyes: Robert Frank Imagines America". Harper's. Archived from the original on February 16, 2014. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  • Frank, Robert. The Americans. Steidl/National Gallery of Art.
  • Greenough, Sarah (ed.). Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans. Steidl/National Gallery of Art.



  1. ^ "People", Publishers Weekly, vol. 254, no. 13, p. 16, March 26, 2007, retrieved January 15, 2014
  2. ^ "Author Philip Roth wins Saul Bellow Award", USA Today, April 1, 2007, retrieved January 15, 2014
  3. ^ Hillel Italie (March 9, 2008). "Prose to Serve 2nd Term PEN Leader". Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 11, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  4. ^ Motoko Rich (April 2, 2008), "Pen Rallies Behind Ousted Author", The New York Times, p. E2, retrieved January 15, 2014
  5. ^ Hillel Italie (March 13, 2009). "Appiah to be next president of writers group". Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 11, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  6. ^ Francine Prose (January 14, 2014). "How Have Tools Like Google and YouTube Changed the Way You Work?". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Member Directory - American Academy in Rome". www.aarome.org. Archived from the original on July 16, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  8. ^ "Francine Prose to receive Washington University International Humanities Medal Nov. 30". The Source. - Washington University in St. Louis. November 11, 2010. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  9. ^ "Washington University's International Humanities Medal". The Figure in the Carpet. The Center for the Humanities. Archived from the original on September 30, 2015. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  10. ^ "Read the Letters and Comments of PEN Writers Protesting the Charlie Hebdo Award". Firstlook.org. April 27, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  11. ^ Boris Kachka (April 29, 2015). "How and Why 35 Writers Denounced PEN Over Charlie Hebdo". Vulture. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  12. ^ "204 PEN Writers (Thus Far) Have Objected to the Charlie Hebdo Award – Not Just 6". Firstlook.org. April 30, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  13. ^ Francine Prose, "I admire Charlie Hebdo's courage. But it does not deserve a PEN award", The Guardian, 28 April 2015.
  14. ^ John Nichols (April 30, 2015). "Charlie Hebdo Deserves Its Award for Courage in Free Expression. Here's Why". The Nation. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  15. ^ "Francine Prose reminds us why so many novelists are so very, very stupid". Blogs.spectator.co.uk. April 28, 2015. Archived from the original on September 14, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  16. ^ Michael Moynihan (May 5, 2015). "America's Literary Elite Takes a Bold Stand Against Dead Journalists". The Daily Beast. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  17. ^ Nick Cohen (May 1, 2015). "Charlie Hebdo and the literary indulgence of murder | Nick Cohen: Writing from London". Archived from the original on May 25, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  18. ^ Alison Flood (April 27, 2015). "Charlie Hebdo row leads to Facebook fallout between Salman Rushdie and Francine Prose". The Guardian. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  19. ^ a b Post by Francine Prose, Facebook. January 7, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2018.
  20. ^ Mavis Gallant. "The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street", The New Yorker December 14, 1963. Accessed January 18, 2018.
  21. ^ Sadia Shepard. "Foreign-Returned", The New Yorker. January 8, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  22. ^ Alison Flood. "Author Denies Plagiarism in New Yorker Story Modelled on Mavis Gallant Tale", The Guardian. January 16, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  23. ^ Francine Prose. "Finding the Fiction", The New Yorker, January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  24. ^ Sadia Shepard. "Sadia Shepard Replies", The New Yorker. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  25. ^ Peggy Guggenheim – The Shock of the Modern, Yale University Press
  26. ^ "Past Winners". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  27. ^ "Past Winners". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved January 20, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]