At once fiercely immediate and complex in their implications, “The Shawl” and “Rosa” succeed in imagining the unimaginable: the horror of the Holocaust and the emptiness of its aftermath. They were written in 1977 but were first published in the early 1980s in The New Yorker. Both “The Shawl” and “Rosa” won first prize in the O. Henry Prize Stories and were chosen for Best American Short Stories.
In a gauntlet-throwing essay at the start of this brilliant assemblage, Cynthia Ozick stakes the claim that, just as surely as critics require a steady supply of new fiction, novelists need great critics to build a vibrant community on the foundation of literary history. For decades Ozick herself has been one of our great critics, as these essays so clearly display. She offers models of critical analysis of writers from the mid-20th century to today, from Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, and Kafka to William Gass and Martin Amis, all assembled in provocatively named groups.
Heir to the Glimmering World is a highly atmospheric novel set in New York in the 1930s. When a young woman becomes assistant to a German professor living in the Bronx, she must find her place in his chaotic household and learn to navigate the eccentric generosity of his benefactor, an aging Christopher Robin.
Pulitzer Prize finalist Cynthia Ozick’s fiction has been awarded multiple O. Henry Prizes. In Foreign Bodies, Ozick crafts a remarkable retelling of Henry James’ The Ambassadors—deftly using its plot, yet boldly infusing the novel with an all new place, time, and meaning. It’s 1952, and middle-aged Bea Nightingale reluctantly agrees to fly to Paris to help convince her estranged runaway nephew to return to his family. But Bea’s experiences abroad will change her forever.
"Decidedly Literary and Very Enjoyable"
Isaac Kornfeld, a learned rabbi, has hanged himself in a park. His old friend pays a condolence call upon a bereaved wife. And he is shocked to find her cold, unforgiving, as she tells the story of her husband's great struggle between the flowering nymph of his passions and the book-laden old Jew of his soul.
In 2008, Cynthia Ozick published a new collection of stories, Dictation, and won both the PEN/Malumud Award and PEN/Nabokov Award for lifetime achievement. This program is one of a series of afternoon talks, hosted by Roger Rosenblatt, which features intimate discussions with writers about their work, their passions and the books on their night tables.
The collapse of her brief marriage has stalled Bea Nightingale's life, leaving her middle-aged, alone, and teaching in an impoverished borough of 1950s New York. A plea from her estranged brother gives Bea the excuse to escape lassitude by leaving for Paris to retrieve a nephew she barely knows, but the siren call of Europe threatens to deafen Bea to the dangers of entangling herself in the lives of her brother's family. The story of Bea's travails on the continent is a fierce and heart-breaking insight into the nature of love.