Leslie Donald Epstein (born May 4, 1938 in Los Angeles, California) is an American novelist. He has had numerous articles and essays published in magazines and journals. For more than 20 years, he has been director of the Creative Writing Program at Boston University.
Early life and education
Leslie Epstein was born to a Jewish family in Los Angeles and grew up in Hollywood. He later attended the Webb School of California. His father Philip G. Epstein and uncle Julius J. Epstein were both screenwriters. They won an Academy Award for Casablanca (1942). His father died at the age of 42 of cancer, in 1952.
He has written nine novels including King of the Jews (1979), about Chaim Rumkowski, head of the Judenrat of the Lodz ghetto during World War II; and Pandaemonium (1997). His San Remo Drive: A Novel from Memory (2004) was based on his childhood growing up in Hollywood in the 1940s and 50s.
His most recent novels are The Eighth Wonder of the World, published by Other Press in 2006, and Liebestod: Opera Buffa with Lieb Goldkorn, published by W. W. Norton & Co. in February 2012.
Epstein has written articles for Esquire (magazine), The Atlantic Monthly, Playboy, Harper's, The Yale Review, The Nation, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe. Among those articles is his essay, "Returning to Proust's World Stirs Remembrance", for the New York Times series, 'Writers on Writing' (Vol. II). In it, he defined reading Marcel Proust "ala Epstein" as reading Proust each night before bedtime; by confining the session to two pages of five minutes, he created a five-year project to complete all the volumes of A la recherche du temps perdu. His rationale: "It is not a bad idea to keep a nightly appointment with a noble mind; it has the power to purify even the most wasted day."[this quote needs a citation]
For more than twenty years, Leslie Epstein has been the director of the Creative Writing Program at Boston University, where he joined the faculty in 1978. In February 2007, his play King of the Jews (not an adaptation of his earlier novel, but an independent realization of the same theme) was premiered at Boston Playwrights' Theatre to critical acclaim.
Jhumpa Lahiri, a Bengali-American short story writer, says that Leslie Epstein is the person who gave her the confidence to write. While she was attending the Creative Writing Program at Boston University, he called her a writer. This was the encouragement she needed to take her work further.
Marriage and family
Epstein married and had a family. His son Theo Epstein is the Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations. His daughter Anya Epstein is a television writer and producer. Through Anya, his son-in-law is actor and screenwriter Dan Futterman.
- P.D. Kimerakov, 1975.
- The Steinway Quintet: Plus Four, 1976.
- King of the Jews, 1979.
- Regina, 1982.
- Goldkorn Tales, 1985.
- Pinto and Sons, 1990.
- Pandemonium, 1997.
- Ice Fire Water, 1999.
- San Remo Drive, 2003.
- The Eighth Wonder of the World, 2006.
- Liebestod, 2012
- California Births, 1905 - 1995
- Taub, Michael; Shatzky, Joel (1997). Contemporary Jewish-American Novelists: A Bio-critical Sourcebook. Greenwood. pp. 81–86. ISBN 978-0313294624.
- Pat McGilligan, ed. (1986). Backstory: interviews with screenwriters of Hollywood's golden age. Backstory 1. University of California Press. pp. 170–171. ISBN 0-520-05689-2.
- Video on YouTube
- "Creative Writing Program Annual Faculty Reading" Video of reading, April 28, 2009