Rachel Kushner

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Rachel Kushner
Kushner in 2015
Kushner in 2015
Born (1968-10-07) October 7, 1968 (age 54)
Eugene, Oregon, USA
OccupationNovelist, essayist
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley (B.A.)
Columbia University (MFA)
Notable works
SpouseJason Smith

Rachel Kushner (born 1968) is an American writer, known for her novels Telex from Cuba (2008), The Flamethrowers (2013), and The Mars Room (2018).

Early life[edit]

Kushner was born in Eugene, Oregon, the daughter of two Communist scientists, one Jewish and one Unitarian,[1] whom she has called "deeply unconventional people from the beatnik generation."[2][3] Her mother arranged after-school work for her straightening and alphabetizing books at a feminist bookstore when she was 5 years old, and Kushner says "it was instilled in me that I was going to be a writer of some kind from a young age."[2][4] Kushner moved with her family to San Francisco in 1979.[5]

When she was 16, she began her bachelor's degree in political economy at the University of California, Berkeley with an emphasis on United States foreign policy in Latin America.[4][6] Kushner lived as an exchange student in Italy when she was 18; upon completing her Bachelor of Arts, she lived in San Francisco, working at nightclubs.[4] At 26, she enrolled in the fiction program at Columbia University and earned a MFA in creative writing in 2000.[7] One of her influences is the American novelist Don DeLillo.[8]



Kushner's first novel, Telex from Cuba, was published by Scribner in July 2008. She got the idea for her novel after completing her MFA in 2000, and she made three long trips to Cuba over the six years it took her to write the book.[4][9] Telex from Cuba was the cover review of the July 6, 2008 issue of The New York Times Book Review, where it was described as a "multi-layered and absorbing" novel whose "sharp observations about human nature and colonialist bias provide a deep understanding of the revolution's causes." Telex from Cuba was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award.[10][11] Kushner's editor is Nan Graham.[12]

Kushner's second novel, The Flamethrowers, was published by Scribner in April 2013. Vanity Fair hailed it for its "blazing prose," which "ignites the 70s New York art scene and Italian underground."[citation needed] In The New Yorker, critic James Wood praised the book as "scintillatingly alive. It ripples with stories, anecdotes, set-piece monologues, crafty egotistical tall tales, and hapless adventures: Kushner is never not telling a story... It succeeds because it is so full of vibrantly different stories and histories, all of them particular, all of them brilliantly alive."[13] The Flamethrowers was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award,[14] and it was named a top book of 2013 by[15] New York Magazine, Time Magazine, The New Yorker, O, The Oprah Magazine, New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Vogue, Wall Street Journal, Salon, Slate, Daily Beast, Flavorwire, The Millions, The Jewish Daily Forward, and Austin American-Statesman.

Kushner's third novel, The Mars Room, was published by Scribner in May 2018.[16] In September 2018 it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.[17]


After completing her MFA, Kushner lived in New York City for eight years, where she was an editor at Grand Street and BOMB. She has written widely on contemporary art, including numerous features in Artforum.[18]

In 2016, Kushner visited Israel, as part of a project by the "Breaking the Silence" organization, to write an article for a book on the Israeli occupation, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War.[19][20] The book was edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, and was published under the title "Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation", in June 2017.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Kushner lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband Jason Smith and their son Remy.[22]

Awards and honors[edit]



  1. ^ Russo, Maria (May 6, 2013). "Knowingly Navigating the Unknown". The New York Times – via NYTimes.com.
  2. ^ a b de Rosee, Sophie. "Author Rachel Kushner talks to Sophie de Rosee about childhood, marriage and Don DeLillo". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  3. ^ Miller, M.H. (14 March 2013). "Revolution Blues: Rachel Kushner's New Novel Examines Rebellion, Both Real and Staged". observer.com. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Kunzru, Hari. "BOMB—Artists in Conversation: Rachel Kushner". bombmagazine.org. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Telex from Cuba (Kushner) - Author Bio". litlovers.com. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  6. ^ "Rachel Kushner". ndbooks.com. 2 October 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  7. ^ "Kushner, Rachel". id.loc.gov. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  8. ^ Ulin, David L. (12 April 2013). "Rachel Kushner lights a fire in 'The Flamethrowers'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  9. ^ Timberg, Scott (5 July 2008). "Breathing literary life into '50s Cuba". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  10. ^ a b "National Book Awards - 2008". National Book Foundation. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  11. ^ Cokal, Susan (July 6, 2008). "Livin' La Vida Local". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "Board of Directors". centerforfiction.org. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Youth in Revolt". The New Yorker. March 31, 2013.
  14. ^ a b National Book Awards - 2013. National Book Foundation. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
  15. ^ "Rachel Kushner/News". rachelkushner.com.
  16. ^ Kushner, Rachel (2018-05-01). The Mars Room. ISBN 9781476756554.
  17. ^ "The Man Booker Prize for Fiction Names Its 2018 Shortlist". publishingperspectives. 2018-09-20. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  18. ^ "Rachel Kushner". Simon & Schuster.
  19. ^ Zeveloff, Naomi; The Forward (2016-04-18). "Renowned Authors Learn About Occupation Firsthand in Breaking the Silence Tour". Haaretz.
  20. ^ Cain, Sian (2016-02-17). "Leading authors to write about visiting Israel and the occupied territories". The Guardian.
  21. ^ "Kingdom of Olives and Ash Writers Confront the Occupation By Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman". Retrieved 2022-08-18.
  22. ^ Rachel Kushner: ‘Having children complements the making of art’ The Guardian
  23. ^ McNary, Dave (March 31, 2015). "Rachel Kushner Set as Telluride Film Fest Guest Director".
  24. ^ "The 2014 Folio Prize Shortlist is Announced". Folio Prize. 10 February 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  25. ^ Gaby Wood (10 February 2014). "Folio Prize 2013: The Americans are coming, but not the ones we were expecting". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 February 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  26. ^ "Kalamazoo College graduation: 345 seniors urged to never stop reading, learning and working (with photo gallery)". mlive. June 17, 2013.
  27. ^ "Guggenheim Fellow Rachel Kushner".
  28. ^ Short stories unless otherwise noted.
  29. ^ Kushner, Rachel (2021-04-06). The Hard Crowd. ISBN 978-1-9821-5769-2.

External links[edit]