About Nathan Englander
Nathan Englander’s short fiction has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and numerous anthologies including The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and The Pushcart Prize. His story collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges published in 1999, became an international best-seller, and earned him a PEN/Faulkner Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Of his first novel, The Ministry of Special Cases, The New York Times wrote “one reads this novel in awe of Englander’s talent” The novel is set in 1976 in Buenos Aires during Argentina’s “Dirty War”, the campaign of violence inflicted on the people by the Videla junta. Englander had been taught that the Holocaust must never happen again, but in Argentina he found another Holocaust and the tragic city of Buenos Aires. Englander’s most recent collection of short stories, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank , published in February of 2012, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.
In his stories and his lectures, Englander draws upon his Orthodox Jewish upbringing in West Hempstead, Long Island, as well as his life in Jerusalem commencing in his college years as vacations and then a more permanent move he made in 1996, returning to New York in 2001. “However you go off to Jerusalem, you come back the opposite.” During that first trip in 1989, Englander began to abandon his religion. “I just had questions that weren’t being answered. I guess it’s just that disappointment that everyone finds in every school, in every life, in every community where they say this is what’s written and this is the way for people to act, but people are going by the letter and this is hypocritical. It was the relationship between man and man, and man and God. There was the book stuff, and people would do the ritualistic stuff, but I asked, Who cares about the ritual if this is how we act? Isn’t this all based on the idea that God exists, which we cannot know? Then the rabbi would throw me out.”
Englander was selected as one of “20 Writers for the 21st Century” by The New Yorker. He was awarded the Bard Fiction Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and, in 2004, he was a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.