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Eileen Pollack      

Director of Master of Fine Arts Program at the University of Michigan; Author of "The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science is Still a Boys' Club"

Eileen Pollack was born and grew up in Liberty, N.Y., the heart of the Jewish Catskills, where her grandparents owned and operated a small hotel and her father was the town dentist. A graduate of Yale University with a BS in physics, Pollack later earned an MFA from the University of Iowa, where she was awarded a Teaching-Writing Fellowship.

Pollack is the author, most recently, of the novels The Bible of Dirty Jokes published in 2018 and A Perfect Life, published by Ecco/HarperCollins in 2016.

She also is the author of a collection of short fiction, The Rabbi in the Attic and Other Stories, a novel, Paradise, New York, and a work of creative nonfiction called Woman Walking Ahead: In Search of Catherine Weldon and Sitting Bull, which won a 2003 WILLA finalist award and was made into a major motion picture starring Jessica Chastain.

A second collection of stories and novellas called In the Mouth was published in 2008 by Four Way Books and was named the winner of the 2008 Edward Lewis Wallant Award, which is presented annually to an American writer whose published creative work of fiction is considered to have significance for the American Jew, in addition to being shortlisted for the Sophie Brody Medal for Jewish literature, chosen as a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Award, and awarded a silver medal in ForeWord Magazine’s 2008 Book of the Year Awards.

Pollack’s second novel, Breaking and Entering, was published in January 2012 by Four Way Books and soon after was awarded the 2012 Grub Street National Book Prize and named a New York Times Editor’s Choice selection; the novel follows the experiences of Louise and Richard Shapiro, who, with their young daughter, Molly, move from ultra-liberal Marin County, California, to a quaint, rural town in the Midwest, only to discover that most of their neighbors belong to the Michigan Militia.

Pollack’s essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in many periodicals. Most recently, her article “Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?” appeared in the Sunday, October 6, 2013, issue of The New York Times Magazine; the essay is an excerpt from her nonfiction book The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys’ Club, which was published in September 2015 by Beacon Press. Her innovative textbook and anthology, Creative Nonfiction: A Guide to Form, Content, and Style, with Readings, was published in January 2009 by Wadsworth/Cengage; a companion volume, Creative Composition, which she co-authored with Jeremiah Chamberlin and Natalie Bakopoulos, is available from the same publisher.

Pollack has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Michener Foundation, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, and the Massachusetts Arts Council. Her stories have appeared in journals such as Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Michigan Quarterly Review, SubTropics, Agni, and New England Review. Her novella “The Bris” was chosen to appear in the Best American Short Stories 2007 anthology, edited by Stephen King, while her stories have been awarded two Pushcart Prizes, the Cohen Award for best fiction of the year from Ploughshares, and similar awards from Literary Review and MQR. Her essay “Pigeons” was selected by Cheryl Strayed for the 2013 edition of the Best American Essays. A longtime faculty member and former director of the Helen Zell MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan, Pollacknow lives and works in Manhattan.

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