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A group picture from the 2014 Paris American Academy summer writing workshop

Above: 2014 Paris American Academy writing participants, pictured here outside the Schola Cantorum classroom, included: (front row) Jennabeth Taliaferro, Channing Sargent, Jackie Huang, Karen Hayashida, Lauren Klein, Krista White; (second row) Muath Gassim, Alex Rosenfeld, Julian Webster, Mike Smith, Ege Yumusak, Mohammed Aldhaba, Alana Solina, Tricia King, Powell Berger; (third row) Carolina Pagliuca, Justine Miller, Caroline Kanner, Kelly Rudnicki, Janelle Corsaro, Colin Romano; (back row) Dinah Lenney, Stacey Resnkioff, Rolf Potts, Austin Weihmiller, John Biguenet, Rani Banjarian, Pablo Uribe (photo by Emmi Weihmiller).

New books and projects by Paris writing workshop teachers and graduates

Leslie Jamison's latest book, The Empathy Exams, debuted this spring to wide acclaim, and spent several weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. Dwight Garner of the New York Times called the book "Extraordinary . . . [Jamison] calls to mind writers as disparate as Joan Didion and John Jeremiah Sullivan as she interrogates the palpitations of not just her own trippy heart but of all of ours." National Public Radio called it "a virtuosic manifesto of human pain," the New Yorker called it "piercing and poetic," and the Los Angeles Times praised the ways Jamison "combines the intellectual rigor of a philosopher, the imagination of a novelist and a reporter’s keen eye for detail." The Boston Globe declared that "we're in a new golden age of the essay. . . and in The Empathy Exams Leslie Jamison has announced herself as its rising star."

John Biguenet recently published "The Profound Contradiction of Saving Private Ryan" in The Atlantic; "Astonishing Yankees" in Guernica; and "Sand," a new short story, in Granta. His short story "It Is Raining in Bejucal," which originally appeared in Zoetrope and was reprinted in The Best American Mystery Stories, has been selected for inclusion in The Best of the Best, to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. His new book, Silence, will be published by Bloomsbury in 2015. Rolf Potts has recently written articles for The Atlantic, Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Slate, and The Common. He penned the foreword to Patrick Leigh Fermor's Words of Mercury: Tales from a Lifetime of Travel, and he has been slated to write a volume in Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series of books about classic rock and hip-hop albums. Dinah Lenney's new book, The Object Parade: Essays, arrived in stores in April, and was excerpted and featured online in Agni, the Harvard Review, the Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Times, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Patricia Engel (PAA '03) received a 2013 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Tommy Pico (PAA '11) landed on Flavorwire's list of 23 People Who Will Make You Care About Poetry in 2013, and Emily Ding (PAA '11) was named associate editor at Esquire Malaysia. Last Drive With Mom, a personal essay by Amanda Bestor-Siegal (PAA '13) recently appeared in Salon, and Kaori Fujimoto (PAA '11'12) debuted essays this year in Brevity and Cleaver. Holly Sprayregen (PAA '12) writes regularly about travel, movies, and education for The Huffington Post.

A group picture from the 2013 Paris American Academy summer writing workshop

Above: 2013 Paris American Academy writing participants, pictured here outside the Schola Cantorum classroom, included: (front row) Lauren Grodstein, Chelsea Geiger, Jennabeth Taliaferro, Amanda Bestor-Siegal, Clio Contogenis, Nikki Dy-Liacco, James Faccinto, Natey Freeman; (second row) Angelique Stevens, Megan Scannell, Tasha Burgin, Rita Puskas, Ann Fitzmaurice, Lise Funderburg, Powell Berger; (third row) Edward Derby, Christena Southwick, Alex Rosenfeld, Andrew Shephard, Stacey Resnkioff, Lauren Klein; (fourth row) Rolf Potts, John Biguenet, Elisabeth Schwaiger, Karine Shellshear; (back row) David Turnbull, Bob Jeffery (photo by Emmi Weihmiller).

Milestones, awards, and new books by Paris writing workshop graduates

It's Not Love, It's Just Paris, the debut novel by Patricia Engel (PAA '03), will be published by Grove Press in August. Depicting a portrait of a Paris caught between old world grandeur and the international greenblood elite, Engel's novel follows an American girl who navigates the intoxicating and treacherous complexities of independence, friendship, and romance in Paris. Publisher's Weekly notes that “Engel has a knack for showing how Paris’s charms are both real and always verging on cliché . . . an appealing fairy tale quality.”

"Praying to Allah on Bastille Day," a travel story originally drafted at the Paris Writing Workshop by Kate Korman (PAA '10, '11), won the 2012–2013 Boston Review Essay Contest. Judge Glenn Loury noted, “In this quirky short story—a gripping interior monologue narrated in the second person—the author explores themes of religion and sexuality with humor and grace.” Karen Williams (PAA '12) won the 2013 Writersphere Prize on the strength of her short story "Hunting Pirates"; and "Locked Doors," a short story by Andrew Bezek (PAA '12), garnered honorable mention in the 2013 Wallace Prize, the most prestigious independently awarded undergraduate writing prize for fiction at Yale University. Tommy Pico (PAA '11) recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to produce a "best of" anthology of stories, poems, and interviews from Birdsong, his Brooklyn-based 'zine.

Several former PAA students have gained admittance into creative-writing graduate schools on the strength of their Paris Writing Workshop portfolios, including: Lillian Klein (PAA '11, '12), who was accepted into Columbia University's MFA program; Sara Webster (PAA '12), who was accepted into New York University's MFA program; Jann Simmons (PAA '12) who was accepted into Rutgers-Camden's MFA program; and Sonal Aggarwal (PAA '10) who has started an MA in Prose Writing at the University of East Anglia in England.

A group picture from the 2012 Paris American Academy summer writing workshop

2012 Paris American Academy

Above: 2012 Paris American Academy writing participants, pictured here outside the Schola Cantorum classroom, included: (front row) Jann Simmons, Karen Pearson, Christal Radix, Erica Guerra, Andrea Andres, Sara Williams, Kaori Fujimoto, Lauren Klein; (second row) Powell Berger, Mike Fong, Ingrid Pan, Molly Sprayregen, David Turnbull, Maureen Ferguson, Stacey Resnikoff, Lois Allen, Divya Zeiss; (back row) MJ Aravind, Rolf Potts, Lillian Klein, Evan Wood, Rob Newman, Judy Smetana, Anna La Cour, Rohan Divya (photo by Jann Simmons).

New books and projects by Paris writing workshop graduates

September will see the debut of White Jacket Required (Sterling Epicure, 2012), a culinary coming-of-age memoir by Jenna Weber (PAA '07). The Paris American Academy Writing Workshop makes a key appearance in the early pages of this book, which follows the ups and downs of Jenna's personal and professional life as she journeys from the bakeries of Rue Mouffetard, to the kitchens of Le Cordon Bleu, to the early stages of her career as an up-and-coming food blogger at eatliverun.com.

Last September, Poetry Daily featured "Within the Great Wave of Kanagawa," by Julia Reckless (PAA '09,'10). Julia's poem was featured alongside the work of poetry luminaries Donald Hall, Billy Collins and Albert Goldbarth, and originally appeared in Poetry Wales.

Australia-based Carmen Jenner (PAA '06) continues to rack up impressive credits as a travel and food writer, with recent bylines in National Geographic Traveler, CNNGo.com, Asian Geographic Passport, NileGuide, The Australian newspaper, and several in-flight magazines. She has also contributed to a number of travel guidebooks, including Holidays in Western Australia, Hide & Seek Perth, and Great Gourmet Weekends in Australia.

Elsewhere, Sara Hamdan (PAA '08) has been reporting regularly on Middle Eastern business issues for The New York Times, Patricia Giacona-Wilson (PAA '11) ghostwrote Creating Something from Nothing with business writer Kenneth F. George, Razvan Marc (PAA '07) published a travel book about Austria in his native Romania, and Sofiana Filipi (PAA '11) was appointed editor of a children's magazine (and has been translating a series of art books from English) in her native Albania.

Vida, the acclaimed fiction debut by Patricia Engel (PAA '03) is now available in French translation, and was recently featured in Elle magazine.

Stephen King interviews Grodstein; French TV showcases Biguenet

Best-selling author Stephen King interviewed PAA fiction teacher Lauren Grodstein at a public event in New Hampshire this spring. The event focused on Lauren's critically acclaimed novel, A Friend of the Family, which King called "an absolutely marvelous book." "It's a literary novel that has a suspenseful framework to it," King noted during the onstage discussion. "Every page that you turn, the pages get a little bit heavier because you are afraid of what's going to happen." Online video of the event is available at the Algonquin Books Blog.

John Biguenet, who teaches the literary fictions workshop at the Paris American Academy, was featured alongside American authors Toni Morrison, Jonathan Franzen, Philip Roth, Jim Harrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Auster, and Richard Ford in a France 5 TV "road movie" hosted by François Busnel. The documentary endeavors to "read America" by using its foremost literary authors as tour guides. Biguenet's segment featured a boat journey into Louisiana's bayou country.

Biguenet was also interviewed about the French translation of his novel Oyster, on France 24, and the Dutch translations of his story collection The Torturer's Apprentice inspired Volkskrant to call Biguenet "a complete master of the genre." Elsewhere, John's play Shotgun was published in an acting edition by Dramatists Play Service, and his play Rising Water was included in Katrina on Stage: Five PlaysKatrina on Stage by Northwestern University Press. His new play Night Train, which was developed on a Studio Attachment at the National Theatre in London, premiered at New Jersey Repertory Theatre, and was praised by the New York Times for its "seductive dash of Balkan intrigue, with its illusive identities and notions of proletarian revenge." Biguenet's forthcoming play Broomstick: The Confessions of a Witch, had staged readings at the Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans and Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston, and has been selected for Portland Stage’s 2012 festival of new plays.

A group picture from the 2011 Paris American Academy summer writing workshop

Class of the 2011

Above: 2011 Paris American Academy writing participants, pictured here outside the Schola Cantorum classroom, included: (front row) Rebecca Thompson, Meghan Feldmeier, Leia Jane Zidel, Pratima Gangopadhyay, Penny Newell, Madebo Fatunde, Patricia Giacona-Wilson, Vanora Fung; (second row) Kaori Fujimoto, Reigan Ware, Will Miller, Susan Mohammed, Lillian Klein, Courtney Sexton, Emily Ding, Sofiana Filipi, Michelle Martinez; (third row) Sheila Pham, Myrel Chernick, Kate Erskine, Tommy Pico; (fourth row) Lauren Klein, Lucretia Grindle, Ann de Bruin, Powell Berger, Amy Sterne, Charlotte Callander; (back row) Rolf Potts, Lauren Grodstein, Lise Funderburg, John Biguenet (photo by Lindsey Rue).

New books and projects by Paris writing workshop graduates


Lucretia Grindle with visiting writer Jeffrey Tayler in 2010.

This August, MacMillan U.K. will publish The Lost Daughter, by Lucretia Grindle (PAA '08 and '10). Based around the Aldo Moro kidnapping of 1978, The Lost Daughter is both a thriller and love story that deals with the all-too contemporary issues of terrorism and police powers. Lucretia was working on this book last summer while she was a PAA Fellow. "My first experience in Paris, in 2008, led directly to [my previous novel] The Villa Triste," Lucretia says. "While in Paris last summer, in 2010, the workshops and discussion not only fed into the manuscript for The Lost Daughter, but were enormously helpful in bringing depth and focus to the story." Lucretia began to work in nonfiction in Paris in 2008, and sharpened her focus in 2010. She will be returning in 2011 as a Senior Fellow, before beginning the University of Iowa's elite Non-Fiction Writing Program in the fall. "Although I always enjoyed nonfiction," Lucretia says, "I had never tried working in the genre seriously until I came to Paris. The nonfiction workshops of 2008 and 2010 led directly to my applying to Iowa. Without the encouragement and support of the Paris faculty, I never would have dared to write the application. Both of the pieces I sent in came directly out of the Paris nonfiction workshop. Let's hope this summer proves just as productive!"


Vida, the fiction debut of Patricia Engel (PAA '03) attracted enthusiastic praise from American book critics upon its release by Grove/Atlantic last fall. Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times wrote, "the stories in Patricia Engel's striking debut collection are like snapshots from someone's photo album: glimpses of relatives, friends, lovers and acquaintances, sometimes posing, sometimes caught by the camera unawares. What makes Sabina’s coming-of-age story so compelling is the arresting voice Ms. Engel has fashioned for her: a voice that's immediate, unsentimental and disarmingly direct." Ariel Gonzalez of The Miami Herald called Vida "lean and tight...Engel maintains an energetic voice and a cohesive structure. Her no-nonsense, minimalist style glints like the top of a Hemingwayesque iceberg." Molly Young of The Economist wrote, "the titular story is a near-perfect piece of fiction. Vida is the literary equivalent of interacting with someone who maintains unceasing eye contact—compelling, impressive and a little unnerving." And, in the New York Times Book Review, Sophia Lear called Vida "Understated...Arresting...A tingle of recognition builds as detail after detail sings with the veracity of real life...It’s the true-to-life version of the The Virgin Suicides, as vivid and revealing, in its way, as Jeffrey Eugenides's novel." In addition to winning a Florida Book Award, Vida was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2010, earmarked for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, and optioned for development as a motion picture.

Rea Frey (PAA '07) has a new book coming out from Adams Media. Entitled The Cheat Sheet, it mixes stories and advice on "how to catch a cheat in the act; which rules cheaters live by; how to deflect a cheater's advances; how to forgive; and when there's no choice but to forget and move on."

Malia Yoshioka (PAA '08) has been signed on to write and edit Bootsnall.com's Hawaii guide.

Actor and comedian Julia Zemiro (PAA '10) continues to host the popular Australian TV show RocKwiz. She recently mentioned her PAA experience in an interview with the Melbourne Times Weekly. "If you're going to write, why not write in Paris?" she said. "I like writing for the sake of it, and the course was a resource to keep it up. I don't necessarily need to be published or write a film script, but it was a wonderful experience, and to walk around the city was like a little fantasy.'"

A group picture from the 2010 Paris American Academy summer writing workshop

Above: 2010 Paris American Academy writing participants, pictured here outside the Schola Cantorum classroom, included: (front row) Sonal Aggarwal, Lindsey Block, Ayesha Sindhu, Courtney Schilling, Alicia Malone; (second row) Erin Thompson, Marsha Biguenet, Katie Applebaum, Mark Ayling, John Mauldin, Kate Korman; (third row) Lindsey Rue, Jordan Koontz, Lauren Grodstein, Cass McGovern, Julia Reckless, Lucretia Grindle; (back row) John Biguenet, Rolf Potts, Troy Rodrigues, Julia Zemiro.

New books by Paris writing workshop graduates

Macmillan will publish The Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle (PAA '08) in the summer of 2010. The publisher's plot-description reads: "In modern day Florence, the new Director of Elite Policing — Inspector Pallioti — is called to oversee the investigation into a most shocking crime. A recently decorated Partisan hero has been discovered dead in his apartment, a bullet wound to his head and his mouth stuffed with salt. Later, another former Partisan is found murdered in the same brutal, unnerving way. During the course of the investigation, Pallioti finds the old wartime diary of Caterina Camaccio. Increasingly drawn into Caterina's tale of love, longing, heroism and ultimately treachery, Pallioti gradually discovers the dark secrets in Florence's bloody history and begins to realize that the past really does inform the present. For it is Caterina herself who will lead him to the shocking truth behind these bloody murders…"

Grove/Atlantic has signed Patricia Engel (PAA '03) to a two-book deal, which includes a short story collection and an as-yet-unnamed novel. Vida, the collection of stories, will debut in the fall of 2010. Patricia's publisher calls the book "a subtle and beautiful map of the Colombian diaspora through the eyes of a wise and wonderful young heroine." Elsewhere, Engel's short story "The Bridge" will appear in the Atlantic Monthly's 2010 Fiction Issue, and her story "Madre Patria" is forthcoming in Quarterly West.

Haifa Mahabir (PAA '08) has edited an anthology of creative nonfiction essays, which Codhill Press will publish in the spring of 2010. Entitled In Search Of, it includes work by 2008 Paris writing workshop students Sara Hamdan and Cass McGovern, as well as instructor Rolf Potts and visiting writer Jeffrey Tayler.

Jenna Weber (PAA '07) has let us know that Sterling Publishing will release her as-yet-untitled food memoir in the spring of 2011. Jenna's food and nutrition blog is Eat Live Run: A Food Journal of a Girl with a Healthy Mission.

New books and awards for Paris American Academy writing teachers

Paris Journal teacher Lauren Grodstein's latest novel, A Friend of the Family (Algonquin, 2009), debuted in November to wide critical acclaim. The Washington Post called it "horrifyingly plausible and deeply poignant"; the Wall Street Journal called it "dark and unsettling"; Bust Magazine called it "difficult to put down." People Magazine praised its "harsh, honest prose"; USA Today noted how it "beautifully captures the ever-striving angst of parents who will take any step to ensure their children's lives are easier or better"; and the Boston Globe noted, "if there’s any justice in the world, A Friend of the Family will be [Grodstein's] breakout book." More information, including book-tour event details, online at Lauren's website.

Literary fictions teacher John Biguenet received the Faulkner Society's 2009 ALIHOT Award for Contributions to Literature, the organization's major annual award. His new play, Shotgun, has been nominated for the American Theatre Critics Association's 2009 ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award for best new American play of the year, and his previous play, Rising Water, will be published by Northwestern University Press in 2011 in a volume entitled Katrina On Stage. His short story collection, The Torturer's Apprentice, will be published in French translation by Edition Albin Michel — and both The Torturer's Apprentice and Oyster, his novel, will be published in Dutch translation by Uitgeverij Ailantus in Amsterdam. His essay "In Between: the DeZurik Sisters," which appeared originally in the Oxford American's annual music issue and was then chosen for Best Music Writing 2006, will be included in the forthcoming Autumn House Anthology of Essays. An online interview with him appears in Story in Literary Fiction.

In November of 2009, creative nonfiction teacher Rolf Potts became the first American writer to receive Italy's prestigious Bruce Chatwin Prize in travel writing. His newest book, Marco Polo Didn't Go There, also received a 2009 Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers. Rolf's stories and essays have recently been anthologized in The Best Travel Writing 2009, the Best of Lonely Planet Travel Writing, and The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 2. His Believer story "The Henry Ford of Literature" was given notable mention in Houghton Mifflin's The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009.

A group picture from the 2009 Paris American Academy summer writing workshop

Above: 2009 Paris American Academy writing participants, pictured here outside the Schola Cantorum classroom, included: (front row) Penny Newell, Danielle Lachance, Darelle Duncan, Deanna Romano, Julia Moore, Francesca Latella, Princess Ayelotan; (second row) Lauren Grodstein, Emily Ingram, Misha Habib, Julia Reckless, Denise Kron; (third row) Stacey Tuel, Mike Fong, Beth Perry, Joe Masterman; (back row) Rolf Potts, Andrew Nunnelly, John Biguenet, Gabe Moseley.

Workshop essays land in "Best Travel Writing 2009"

Jill Paris reads an early draft of "Shopping for Dirndls" at the PAA student reading at Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore.

We are pleased to announce that Jill Paris (PAA '08) has a story ("Shopping for Dirndls") appearing in The Best Travel Writing 2009. Jill developed her story in the creative nonfiction workshop taught by Rolf Potts (who also has a story appearing in the anthology).

Elsewhere, Haifa Mahabir (PAA '08) won a Solas Award in travel writing for her essay "A Writer in Paris: On the Road of Vision Seekers," and Stacey Tuel (PAA '09) has a travel story ("My Mexican Housewife") appearing in The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2009.

A group picture from the 2008 Paris American Academy summer writing workshop

Above: 2008 Paris American Academy writing participants, pictured here in the school garden, included: Cass McGovern, Lucretia Grindle, Tina-Marie Patane, John Biguenet, Irina Reyn, Bettye Givens, Jill Paris, Malia Yoshioka, Sarah Hamdan, and Haifa Mahabir.

Paris writing workshop students debut new works in print and onstage

Here is a rundown of recent publications by past Paris writing workshop participants:

  • "Hustling Nakamura-san," a Japan-based tale developed in the nonfiction workshop by Andrea Ronkowski (PAA '07), appeared in The Smart Set last October.
  • "Something Special in the Air," a memoir by Cass McGovern (PAA '07 and '08) appears in the Spring 2008 issue of the Massachusetts Review. The story details her experience of flunking out of the American Airlines stewardess school.
  • Dulci Pitagora (PAA '07) performed a nonfiction monologue at Stage Left Studio in New York last fall, and was recently named managing editor at GO Magazine.
  • Subzero, a travel documentary about Arctic Finland by Razvan Marc (PAA '07), debuted on Romanian television last fall. A trailer for the DVD version of his show is online here.
  • Alexis Apfelbaum has a story appearing in "It's All Relative," an upcoming issue of the Global City Review.
  • Perth-based Carmen Jenner (PAA '06) has published a number of travel stories in The Australian, including an article about traveling with children in Paris.
  • Marlene Nichols (PAA '06) will be performing her new solo show "Seeing Voices" at New York’s Stage Left Studio later this month. Performance dates are Thursday-Friday, May 29th & 30th; then Friday-Saturday June 6th and 7th, at 8pm each night.

A group picture from the 2007 Paris American Academy summer writing workshop

Above: 2007 Paris American Academy writing students included: (front row) Lexi Apfelbaum, Tess Vella, Catherine Butler, Rea Frey; (middle row) Annalise Proctor, Dawn Turek, Deborah Nyuli, Alethea Brown, Jenna Weber, Gabi Flam, Tyler Mollenkopf; (back row) Joanne Lappas, Razvan Marc, Dulci Pitagora, Cass McGovern, Erik Olsen, Jenny Nauss, Andrea Ronkowski, Anna Rodriguez.

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