Rivka Galchen

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Rivka Galchen
Galchen speaking at the 2009 Brooklyn Book Festival.
Galchen speaking at the 2009 Brooklyn Book Festival.
Born (1976-04-19) April 19, 1976 (age 44)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
NationalityCanadian, American
EducationPrinceton University (A.B.)
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (M.D.)
Columbia University (M.F.A.)
Notable worksAtmospheric Disturbances (2008)
Notable awardsWilliam J. Saroyan International Prize for Fiction

Rivka Galchen (born April 19, 1976) is a Canadian-American writer. Her first novel, Atmospheric Disturbances, was published in 2008 and was awarded the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.

Early life[edit]

Galchen was born in Toronto, Ontario. When she was an infant, her parents relocated to the United States, where she has lived ever since.[1] From 1981 to 1994 she lived in Norman, Oklahoma, where her father, Tzvi Gal-Chen, was a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and her mother was a computer programmer at the National Severe Storms Laboratory.[2][3]


Galchen graduated with an A.B. in English from Princeton University in 1998. She wrote her 111-page senior thesis, "The Moon Just an Eyelash—fiction", under the supervision of A. J. Verdelle, with Joyce Carol Oates as a contributor.[4] In her sophomore year, Galchen applied to an early-admissions program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.[2] She received her M.D. from Mount Sinai in 2003.[5] After medical school, she earned a MFA in 2006 from Columbia University, where she was a Robert Bingham fellow.[5]


Galchen funded the beginning of her writing career after earning the MFA with the funds she received as a 2006 winner of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award for women writers.[5]

Her first novel, Atmospheric Disturbances, was published in May 2008.[6][7][8] The novel was a finalist for the Mercantile Library's 2008 John Sargent, Sr., First Novel Prize,[9] the Canadian Writers' Trust's 2008 Fiction Prize,[10] and the 2008 Governor General's Award.[11][12]

In October 2008, Galchen was teaching writing at Columbia University.[needs update][11][13] In 2010, Galchen was chosen by The New Yorker as one of its "20 Under 40".[14]

Galchen served as the Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fiction Fellow for the Spring 2011 term at the American Academy in Berlin.[15]

Galchen's short-story collection, American Innovations, was published in 2014.[16][17][18][19][20] It was longlisted for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize,[21] and received the Danuta Gleed Literary Award.[22]

Galchen has written for several national magazines, including The New Yorker,[23] Harper's Magazine,[24] the New York Times Magazine, and The Believer.[when?][citation needed] She was a contributing editor at Harper's.[when?][citation needed]



  • Galchen, Rivka (2008). Atmospheric disturbances. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • — (2017). Little Labours. Fourth Estate.
  • — (2019). Rat Rule 79.
  • — (2021). Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch. Harper Perennial.

Short Story Collections[edit]

  • Galchen, Rivka (2014). American Innovations: Stories. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

List of short stories[edit]

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected
The region of unlikeness 2008 Galchen, Rivka (March 24, 2008). "The region of unlikeness". The New Yorker.
Wild berry blue 2008 Galchen, Rivka. "Wild berry blue". Open City. 25. Dave Eggers, ed. (2009). The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009. New York: Mariner.
Once an empire 2010 Galchen, Rivka (Feb 2010). "Once an empire". Harper's.
The lost order 2013 Galchen, Rivka (January 7, 2013). "The lost order". The New Yorker.
How Can I Help? 2016 Galchen, Rivka (September 19, 2016). "How Can I help?". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on October 29, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2016.



  1. ^ "Heartbreak and loss lie beneath fantastic tale". The Calgary Herald. Archived from the original on 2012-11-05. Retrieved 2008-10-18.
  2. ^ a b "Rivka Galchen, M.D. from Oklahoma Is the Latest Successor to Pynchon". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ Galchen, Rivka Ricki (1998). "The Moon Just an Eyelash -- fiction". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ a b c "The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Awards 2006". Archived from the original on 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  6. ^ Schillinger, Liesl (July 13, 2008). "Book Review | 'Atmospheric Disturbances,' by Rivka Galchen" – via NYTimes.com.
  7. ^ Wood, James (June 16, 2008). "She's Not Herself" – via www.newyorker.com.
  8. ^ The novel features a character with her father's name, Tzvi Gal-Chen, a fictional professor of meteorology and a fellow of the fictional Royal Academy of Meteorology. See "She's Not Herself: A first novel about marriage and madness". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  9. ^ "2008 John Sargent, Sr. First Novel Prize Finalists". The Mercantile Library for Fiction. Archived from the original on 2008-05-31. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  10. ^ "2008 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize Finalists". The Writers' Trust. Archived from the original on December 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  11. ^ a b "Rivka Galchen". Columbia University. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  12. ^ "Past Winners and Finalists". Governor General’s Literary Awards. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  13. ^ "Not Exactly By The Book: Rivka Galchen Reveals Her Convoluted Route to Authorship". The Columbia Spectator. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  14. ^ "Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie". The New Yorker. 2010-06-07. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  15. ^ "Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fiction Fellow, Class of Spring 2011". American Academy in Berlin. Archived from the original on January 24, 2016. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  16. ^ Kelly, Hillary (2014-05-06). ""American Innovations" by Rivka Galchen Reviewed". New Republic. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  17. ^ Langer, Adam (May 7, 2014). "Short Stories That Riff Playfully on Some Enduring Forebears". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Kirsch, Adam (May 8, 2014). "Rivka Galchen Is Not Your Mommy". Tablet.
  19. ^ Gartner, Zsuzsi (May 16, 2014). "American Innovations: Canadian-born Rivka Galchen hits it out of the park again and again". The Globe and Mail.
  20. ^ Cheuse, Alan (May 14, 2014). "Everyday Life Is a Rich Mine Of Absurdity In 'American Innovations'". NPR.
  21. ^ "2014 Finalists". Scotia Bank Giller Prize. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  22. ^ "Winners announced for the 2014 Danuta Gleed Literary Award". The Writer's Union of Canada. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  23. ^ "Contributors – Rivka Galchen". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  24. ^ "Rivka Galchen". Harper's Magazine. Retrieved 2021-01-12.

External links[edit]



Author page[edit]