23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Francine Prose

Portrait Francine Prose
© Hartwig Klappert

Francine Prose was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1947.  She is the author of thirteen books of fiction, four children’s books, a novel for young adults, and several nonfiction books including “Gluttony” (2003), “Sicilian Odyssey” (2003), and “The Lives of the Muses” (2002). A film of her novel, “Household Saints” (1981), was released in 1993.  A graduate of Radcliffe and Harvard Universities she has been active as an author, reporter, translator, and critic. Her stories, influential reviews and essays have appeared in publications such as “The New York Times”, “The New Yorker”, “The Wall Street Journal”, “Die Zeit”, and “Harper’s”, where she is a contributing editor.  In addition, she has taught at numerous colleges and universities and edited the anthology “Best American Voices 2005”, a collection of short stories from American writing schools.

Prose has proven herself to be a witty critic of smugness and of American society.  “Hunters and Gatherers” (1996) depicts the problems of a group of women who adopt the ersatz religion of a New-Age-Feminism.  The nine biographical essays in “The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women and the Artists they Inspired” (2002) look at the active and very individual lives of women and contradict the cliché image of the muse as an exploited well of inspiration.  “Blue Angel” (2000), a novel which refers to Josef von Sternberg’s film, is a story about obsessive love and political correctness.  In this novel, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, the downfall of a college professor, who succumbs in his writing class to his fatal attraction to an attractive student, is described with a keen sense of detail and a penetrative insight into university life.  Prose’s novel, “A Changed Man” (2005), tells the story of a dropout from the Neo-Nazi scene, who looks for help in a Holocaust survivor’s foundation.  Through nuanced personality portraits, often making use of interior monologues, Prose reveals the complex motives of the characters. Her novel for young adults, “After”, (2003) describes a high school that is gradually turned into a police state in the interest of greater “security”.

Among Prose’s awards are Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA grants, a Director’s Fellowship at the New York Public Library, and a Fulbright grant to the former Yugoslavia.  For her translation of a volume of short stories by Ida Fink, a survivor of the Holocaust, Prose received the PEN Translation Prize.  In 1998 she received the National Jewish Book Award for her children’s book “You Never Know: A Legend of the Lamed-Vavniks” (1998).  Prose lives with her husband and two sons in New York.

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