Go to New York State Writers InstituteCenter for Jewish Studies
Elizabeth Rosner
Elizabeth Rosner
(credit: Marion Ettlinger)
April 21, 2004

8:00 p.m. Reading
Campus Center 375
UAlbany, Uptown Campus

The Spped of Light

Born in Schenectady to Holocaust survivors, Elizabeth Rosner is the author of the first novel, The Speed of Light (2001), the story of a brother and sister whose father survived the Nazi death camps. Paula Perel and her brother Julian are shaped by their father�s anguish, but in very different ways. Paula is an extrovert, an opera singer who travels the world, while Julian is a recluse whose preferred companions are 11 television sets in varying states of disrepair. Julian�s life is transformed when he begins a wary friendship with Paula�s Latina housekeeper, Sola, herself the survivor of a political massacre in Central America.

"an impressive debut� As witnesses, Rosner�s characters move forward, healed or not. They tell the truth, share their pain and prop each other up. It seems there�s a lesson here for us all." - San Francisco Chronicle

"A haunting tale of timeless secrets and timely salvation� A spellbinding tribute to the revelations that redeem us and the emotions that enoble us." - Booklist (starred review)

The movie rights to The Speed of Light were purchased by Gillian Anderson, the actress who portrayed Agent Scully in the television series, The X-Files. The screen version, based on Anderson�s own adaptation of the novel, will represent the actress�s directorial debut for a feature film.

Gillian Anderson, X -Files"When I first picked up this book," Anderson told an interviewer, "and started reading the poetry of [Rosner�s] words, I found myself trying to visualize where the camera should be, the colors of the characters, the texture of the shots. It felt so intimate and natural, like I wrote it myself. I took the steps to option it, something I�d never done before. It�s a beautiful piece that needs to see the light of day and hopefully I can do it justice."

Speed of Light has been translated into nine languages, including German, Hebrew, Japanese, Dutch, Italian and Spanish. It received the Harold U. Ribalow Prize of Hadassah Magazine, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award in Fiction, and was a Book Sense 76 Pick of the American Booksellers� Association.

A poet as well as a fiction writer, Rosner�s work has appeared in numerous literary magazines. Much of her writing explores the impact of her parents� experiences as Holocaust survivors on her own life.


In 1995, Rosner received the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award for Poems on the Jewish Experience, administered by the Judah L. Magnes Museum in San Francisco. Her first collection of poems is Gravity (1998), which received the Select Poets Series Award of the Small Poetry Press. The poetry collection reveals many of the inspirations for Rosner�s novel.

Elizabeth Rosner attended Niskayuna High School before moving to California to attend Stanford University. She received an MFA from UC Irvine and an MA in Literary Studies from the University of Queensland, Australia. From 1992-2000, she served as professor of English at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, CA.

She is presently at work on a new novel, Blue Nude, for Ballantine Books.

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