The Shawl


Cynthia Shoshana Ozick (born April 17, 1928) is an American short story writer, novelist, and essayist.[1]


Cynthia Ozick was born in New York City, the second of two children. She moved to the Bronx with her Russian-born parents, Celia (Regelson) and William Ozick, proprietors of the Park View Pharmacy in the Pelham Bay neighborhood.[2] As a girl, Ozick helped to deliver prescriptions. Growing up in the Bronx, she remembers stones thrown at her and being called a Christ-killer as she ran past the two churches in her neighborhood. In school she was publicly shamed for refusing to sing Christmas carols. She attended Hunter College High School in Manhattan.[3] She earned her B.A. from New York University and went on to study at Ohio State University, where she completed an M.A.[2] in English literature, focusing on the novels of Henry James.[4]

Ozick is married to Bernard Hallote, a lawyer. Their daughter, Rachel Hallote, is an associate professor of history at SUNY Purchase and head of its Jewish studies program.[4] Ozick is the niece of the Hebraist Abraham Regelson. She lives in Westchester County, New York.[4]

Literary themes

Ozick's fiction and essays are often about Jewish American life, but she also writes about politics, history, and literary criticism. In addition, she has written and translated poetry. The Holocaust and its aftermath is also a dominant theme. Much of her work explores the disparaged self, the reconstruction of identity after immigration, trauma and movement from one class to another.[2]

Ozick says that writing is not a choice but “a kind of hallucinatory madness. You will do it no matter what. You can’t not do it.” She sees the “freedom in the delectable sense of making things up” as coexisting with the “torment” of writing.[5]

Awards and critical acclaim

In 1971, Ozick received the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for her short story collection, The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories.[6] In 1997, she received the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay for Fame and Folly. Three of her stories won first prize in the O. Henry competition.[3]

In 1986, she was selected as the first winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story. In 2000, she won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Quarrel & Quandary.[7] Her novel Heir to the Glimmering World (2004) (published as The Bear Boy in the United Kingdom) won high literary praise. Ozick was on the shortlist for the 2005 Man Booker International Prize, and in 2008 she was awarded the PEN/Nabokov Award and the PEN/Malamud Award, which was established by Bernard Malamud’s family to honor excellence in the art of the short story. Her novel Foreign Bodies was shortlisted for the Orange Prize (2012) and the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize (2013).[8]

The novelist David Foster Wallace called Ozick one of the greatest living American writers.[9] She has been described as "the Athena of America’s literary pantheon," the "Emily Dickinson of the Bronx," and "one of the most accomplished and graceful literary stylists of her time."[4]

Published works


  • Trust (1966)
  • The Cannibal Galaxy (1983)
  • The Messiah of Stockholm (1987)
  • The Puttermesser Papers (1997)
  • Heir to the Glimmering World (2004) (published in the United Kingdom in 2005 as The Bear Boy)
  • Foreign Bodies (2010)

Shorter fiction

  • The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories (1971)
  • Bloodshed and Three Novellas (1976)
  • Levitation: Five Fictions (1982)
  • Envy; or, Yiddish in America (1969)
  • The Shawl (1989)
  • Collected Stories (2007)
  • Dictation: A Quartet (2008)

Essay collections

  • All the World Wants the Jews Dead (1974)
  • Art and Ardor (1983)
  • Metaphor & Memory (1989)
  • What Henry James Knew and Other Essays on Writers (1993)
  • Fame & Folly: Essays (1996)
  • Quarrel & Quandary (2000)
  • The Din in the Head: Essays (2006)
  • Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays (2016)


  • Blue Light (1994)


  • A Cynthia Ozick Reader (1996)
  • The Complete Works of Isaac Babel (introduction 2001)
  • Fistfuls of Masterpieces [10]
See also
  • Jewish American literature
  1. ^ Articles about Cynthia Ozick, New York Times
  2. ^ a b c Emma Brockes. "A life in writing: Cynthia Ozick", The Guardian, 2 July 2011
  3. ^ a b "Cynthia Ozick - Jewish Women's Archive". Retrieved 12 January 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c d Profile: Cynthia Ozick Archived 2012-04-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Profile: Cynthia Ozick - Hadassah Magazine". 28 February 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2018. 
  6. ^ "The Edward Lewis Wallant Award". Section: "Past Recipients". The Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies. University of Hartford. Retrieved 2017-09-23.
  7. ^ Brockes, Emma (4 July 2011). "A life in writing: Cynthia Ozick". Retrieved 12 January 2018 – via 
  8. ^ Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize 2013 Archived November 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Brief Interview with a Five Draft Man, Amherst Magazine
  10. ^ "The New York Times: Book Review Search Article". Retrieved 12 January 2018. 
External links
  • Belonging Too Well: Portraits of Identity in Cynthia Ozick's Fiction. Miriam Sivan. (SUNY Press, 2009).
  • Tom Teicholz (Spring 1987). "Cynthia Ozick, The Art of Fiction No. 95". The Paris Review
  • An Interview with Cynthia Ozick, by David Wiley for The Minnesota Daily's A&E Magazine, July 2, 1997
  • "A Conversation with Cynthia Ozick," Georgetown University
  • Interview at City Arts
  • Interview at The Morning News
  • PEN/Malamud Awards
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • "The Lesson of the Master," Ozick's essay on the story by Henry James at Narrative Magazine.


  • 2000 NY Times: The Girl Who Would Be James by John Sutherland (on Ozick's book Quarrel & Quandary)
  • 2002 Partisan Review: Cynthia Ozick, Aesthete by Sanford Pinsker
  • 2004 Law and Literature, vol. 16, pp. 229–235 (summer, 2004): Reading and Misreading the Reader by Jeffrey I. Roth (on Ozick's essay The Rights of History and the Rights of Imagination)
  • 2005 The Guardian: The World is Not Enough by Ali Smith (on Ozick's book The Bear Boy)
  • 2006 Moondance magazine: Answering the Writer's Tumult – On Cynthia Ozick's 'The Din in the Head' by Lys Anzia
  • 2006 NY Times Book Review: " The Canon as Cannon, by Walter Kirn (on Ozick's book "The Din in the Head")
  • 2010 NY Times Book Review: "Cynthia Ozick’s Homage to Henry James", by Thomas Mallon (on Ozick's book Foreign Bodies)
  • 2010 Jewish Ideas Daily: "Taking Sides", by D. G. Myers (on Ozick's book Foreign Bodies)
  • 2010 NY Times Book Review: "A Jamesian Pays Tribute in a Retelling", by Charles McGrath (on Ozick's book Foreign Bodies)
  • 2016 Weekly Standard: "The Essential Critic", by Benjamin Balint (on Ozick's book Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays)

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