Peter Selgin

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Peter Selgin (born 1957) is an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, editor, and illustrator. Selgin teaches at Antioch University's Low-Residency MFA Creative Writing Program and is Assistant Professor of English at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Georgia.


A son of Italian immigrants,[1] Peter Selgin was born in Bethesda, Maryland, grew up in Bethel, Connecticut, and attended Bethel High School. From an early age, he showed considerable talent in visual art and theater, going on to attend the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, where he studied film, theater and visual art, before turning to writing. After stints in community theater, he later attended Bard College, and earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from Western Connecticut State University. For years, between writing plays and stories, he worked as a visual artist—including as a caricaturist, illustrator, and painter. Nerve damage to his hand from a dog attack in 1981 temporarily sidelined his career. Selgin's injury and its aftermath are the subject of the Best American Essay "Confessions of a Left-Handed Man."

Since earning his Master of Fine Arts degree from the New School University in New York City in 2005, he has taught creative writing at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, Georgia, Montclair State University in New Jersey, and New York University, among other universities and colleges. He has also taught creative writing at various community organizations, including the Gotham Writers' Workshop, The Center for Fiction (formerly, the Mercantile Library for Fiction), and the Bronx Writers' Center, among others. For several summers, he has organized and led a week-long creative writing workshop in Vitorchiano, Italy.

Selgin is currently the Viebranz Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.

Selgin is also the editor of Alimentum: The Literature of Food, a literary journal devoted exclusively to food themed poetry, prose, and creative nonfiction.

His twin brother, George Selgin is a professor of economics at the University of Georgia. His father, Paul Selgin, was an inventor whose numerous patents include many for optical measuring devices for use in manufacturing. His half-sister, Clare Selgin Wolfowitz, is an editor and expert in Indonesian anthropology.



Selgin’s debut short story collection, Drowning Lessons, won the 2007 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and was published in 2008 by the University of Georgia Press. (4) His first novel, Life Goes to the Movies was a finalist for both the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Award for the Novel and was published in 2009 by Dzanc Books. His latest novel, "The Water Master," won the 2011 William Faulkner-William Wisdom prize for best Novel, selected by Random House Editor Will Murphy.


Selgin is also the author of two non-fiction books on the craft of fiction writing, By Cunning & Craft, and 179 Ways to Save a Novel, both published by Writer's Digest Books. His first book of essays, Confessions of a Left-Handed Man, was published by the University of Iowa Press / Sightline Books in October 2011. His memoir, "The Inventors," will be published by Hawthorne Books in April, 2016.


As a playwright, Selgin has been a three-time finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Center National Playwrights Conference Award. His stage drama, A God in the House, based on Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his “suicide machine,” was presented there in 1991, and subsequently optioned for off-Broadway. A God in the House also won the Mill Mountain Theatre New Plays Competition (1990). Night Blooming Serious, another full-length drama, won the Charlotte Repertory New Plays Festival Competition (1993). (5)

Visual art

Selgin's illustrations and paintings have been featured in The New Yorker, Gourmet, Outside, Fine Gardening, San Francisco, Boston, Forbes, U.S. Art, American Illustration, Time-Out New York, the Chicago Tribune, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as NPR's Weekend Edition, Fox's Good Day New York, and CNBC's Great Stuff. As a commercial artist, he storyboarded several motion picture scenes, including the gargoyle special effects sequences in Tales from the Darkside.

Children's books

Selgin has also written and illustrated several picture books for children, including, S.S. Gigantic Across the Atlantic (2)





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