Michael Brodsky

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Michael Brodsky
Born (1948-08-02) August 2, 1948 (age 70)
New York City, United States
Occupation Novelist, Editor
Nationality American
Literary movement Postmodern
Notable works Xman,

Michael Mark Brodsky (born Aug 2, 1948[3][4]) is a scientific/medical editor, novelist, playwright, and short story writer. He is best known for his novels, and for his translation of Samuel Beckett's Eleuthéria.

Personal background[edit]

Michael Brodsky was born in New York City, the son of Martin and Marian Brodsky. He attended the Bronx High School of Science.[5] He received a 1969 BA from Columbia University, taught math and science in New York for a year, attended Case Western Reserve University medical school[5] for two years, then taught French and English in Cleveland until 1975.

Brodsky returned to New York City in 1976, working as an editor for the Institute for Research on Rheumatic Diseases. He married Laurence Lacoste.[6] They are the parents of two children, Joseph Matthew and Matthew Daniel. From 1985-1991, Brodsky was an editor with Springer-Verlag. After 1991, he was with the United Nations.[7]

Brodsky lives on Roosevelt Island.[8]

Unpublished works[edit]

The following list of "Books by Michael Brodsky" appeared in Project and other short pieces:

Bulletins, novel (1969-70)
Haven, novel (1972-73)
Flesh is Flesh, novel (1976)
Street Lesions, play (1977)
  • Dose Center, play (1977)
  • Terrible Sunlight, play (1978)
Theme and Variations, novel (1979)
  • Night of the Chair, play (1980)
Four Nephews, dialogue (1980)
Isaac Luria, novel (1982)

The entries with a bullet-point have been published, or, in the case of the plays, performed. All novels but the last were named in a German-language newspaper article on Brodsky.[9] Flesh is Flesh was named as forthcoming on the dustjacket of the first edition of Detour.

Published and performed works[edit]



  • Invidicum, an excerpt appears in Review of Contemporary Fiction, 31.1, Spring 2011 (the Failure issue), with this headnote:
Brodsky's novel-in-progress, Invidicum, concerns an experimental drug for "Envy Disease," and the group involved in its clinical trials.

Shorter fiction[edit]


Never published, these plays were performed Off-Off-Broadway in brief runs:[10]

  • Terrible Sunlight, 1980
    • "An experimental work, ... utilizing various visual media ...."[11]
  • Dose Center, 1990
    • The "play probes the interaction between two men, their fellows and keepers, within the confines of a mental institution."[12]
  • Night of the Chair, 1990
    • The play "shows two figures playing out their life-or-death struggle around a single simple prop."[13]
  • Six Scenes: A Barracks Brawl, 1994
  • The Anti-Muse, reading 1996, performance 2000

Apparently never performed, these plays were published in Project:

  • Packet Piece, 1982
  • No Packet Piece, 1982



  • "Svevo: The Artist as Analyzand", Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry, 15 no. 2-3 (1977), pp 112–133.
  • "Toward the Plane of the Sacred: Hafftka’s Great Chain of Being" essay in the catalogue for Michael Hafftka "A Retrospective: Large Oils 1985-2003" (2004).[14]

Critical reception[edit]

Critical reception to Brodsky's work has been strongly polarized, with the praise putting him in the company of some of the greatest writers, and with the rejections being openly insulting.

Highly positive[edit]

His novels, plays and short story collections have been likened, by the mainstream press, to the work of Beckett, Joyce, Kafka, Proust, Dostoevski and Swift, as well as Barth, Pynchon, Barthelme and Burroughts. I would add Thomas Bernhard and Italo Svevo, for reasons of style and the formidable, original talent their texts exhibit.

— Judith Upjohn, "#$%!: review of ***",American Book Review, v16, no5, Dec-Feb 1994-5

It should be obvious to serious readers ... that Brodsky ... is a sensitive, original, and insightful writer, one of the best produced by this country in the last 30 years.

— Harvey Pekar, Village Voice, "An American Revisionary", review of Detour re-issue, 8/19/2003

Highly negative[edit]

His latest deconstructionist experiment fails miserably, consisting almost entirely of the pathetic projections, obsessions, rationalizations, and delusions of a character we are not given the slightest reason to care about. A few scholarly avant-gardists, confused compulsives, and bibliomasochists will love this book.

— Jim Dwyer, Cal State Chico, Library Journal, review of Three Goat Songs, 1991

It would be nice if the hapless reader didn't have to reach for the nearest bottle of Excedrin or take a nap between pages or could actually connect with a character or two in any of these frustratingly opaque stories.

— Charles Salzberg, New York Times, review of Southernmost and other stories, 3/9/1997

Further reading[edit]

A short biography, and brief summaries of Brodsky's longer fiction and critical reception can be found here:

  • Herman, Peter G., "Michael Brodsky", World Authors, 1995-2000 Ed. Clifford Thompson and Mari Rich. New York: H. W. Wilson Company (2003). pp 113–115.
  • Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, vol 147 (2006) pp 56–8.

Brief summaries of his shorter fiction, critical reception, and quotations from Brodsky on his own fiction, can be found here:

  • Hawley, John C., "Michael Brodsky (2 August 1948-)", American Short-Story Writers Since World War II, Fourth Series. Ed. Patrick Meanor and Joseph McNicholas. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 244. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. pp 34–39. Online here.


CANRS refers to Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, and DLB refers to Dictionary of Literary Biography. Full citations are above.

  1. ^ a b c d Many reviews
  2. ^ a b c Brodsky article on Svevo #Criticism
  3. ^ This is taken from World Authors, 1995-2000, CANRS 147, DLB 244. Brodsky's first two books give his birth year as 1951, later books give 1948.
  4. ^ See also CANRS 147 and DLB 244, cited above.
  5. ^ a b Detour, author information
  6. ^ 11/28/1976, as given in DLB 244 and CANRS 147
  7. ^ all other information, these two paragraphs, is from World Authors 1995-2000 or DLB 244 or CANRS 147
  8. ^ CANRS 147, and Zeek magazine.
  9. ^ a b "Michael Brodsky "Der Tatbestand und seine Hülle"". Die Zeit. September 9, 1983. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  10. ^ the first three are listed in contemporary New York theater listings, the first four in New York Times theater listings, all are listed in DLB 244
  11. ^ New York, 4/21/1980, p. 27.
  12. ^ New York, 2/26/1990, p. 155.
  13. ^ New York, 12/10/1990, p. 128.
  14. ^ Hafftka was the illustrator (cover and some internal) for Brodsky's early fiction, and later for Limit Point.