March 31, 2005
Sarah Blocher Cohen
8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, PAC
UAlbany, Uptown Campus
Cynthia Ozick is widely regarded as one of America's leading fiction writers, as well as one of the finest essayists in the English language. She is also a four-time winner of the O. Henry First Prize Award for short fiction.
Ozick's work frequently tackles philosophical and theological issues, and is often steeped in Jewish spirituality, mysticism and history.
"If there is such a thing as a literary pantheon in America, then Cynthia Ozick is surely its Athena…. Ozick casts sentences that fairly pulse with the electricity of a highly charged mind." - Marie Arana-Ward in the "Washington Post
"a master of the meticulous sentence and champion of the moral sense of art." - Elaine M. Kauvar in "Contemporary Literature"
Ozick's newest novel is "Heir to the Glimmering World" (2004), the story of the Mitwissers, an eccentric family of German-Jewish refugees, members of Berlin's intellectual elite, who are forced to flee to American shores. Narrated by Rose Meadows, who is engaged by the Mitwissers as a live-in secretary and nanny, the novel begins in Albany in the 1930s, then shifts to the outskirts of the Bronx at a time when New York City is quickly filling with "Europe's ousted dreamers."
"Ozick portrays this ramshackle household to dazzling effect, as it adjusts to its many states of exile…." - The "New Yorker"
"a wise, quietly magical world." - James Sallis in the "Washington Post"
"A cause for celebration in the world of literature. Here we have a heroine to love, a story we can't let go of,
"gorgeous sentences, and ideas to wrestle with. I didn't just read this book, I devoured it." - novelist Ann Patchett
Ozick's 1997 novel, "The Puttermesser Papers," was a finalist for the National Book Award and was named one of the top ten books of 1997 by both the "New York Times Book Review" and the "Los Angeles Times Book Review." The novel follows the adventures of Ruth Puttermesser, an idealist, visionary, and female Don Quixote who, with the help of a girl golem she constructs from potting soil from her house plants, becomes mayor of New York City on a reform ticket.
"The finest achievement of Ozick's career. . . It has all the buoyant integrity of a Chagall painting." - The "San Francisco Chronicle"
Other acclaimed books of fiction include "The Shawl" (1989), "The Messiah of Stockholm" (1987), "Cannibal Galaxy" (1983), "Levitation: Five Fictions" (1982), "Bloodshed and Three Novellas" (1976), "The Pagan Rabbi, and Other Stories" (1971), which was a National Book Award finalist, and "Trust" (1966, reissued in 2004 with a new afterward by the author).
In 2000, Ozick received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism for the book of essays, "Quarrel and Quandary," which addresses such subjects as Anne Frank, Henry James, Franz Kafka, and W. G. Sebald."I urge all lovers of American prose to read it... Cynthia Ozick is, for my money, the most accomplished and graceful literary stylist of our time..." - John Sutherland in the "New York Times Book Review"
Other essay collections include "Portrait of the Artist as a Bad Character" (1996), "Fame and Folly" (1996), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, "What Henry James Knew" (1993), "Metaphor and Memory" (1989), and "Art and Ardor" (1983).