Vivian Gornick

In her landmark criticism and frank, elegiac, often ruefully funny memoirs, Vivian Gornick asks us to connect the ways in which we think, write, and love, drawing from her feminism, intellectual clarity, and radical awareness of a personal story’s capacity to enlarge us all.

Born in the Bronx to Russian Jewish immigrants, Vivian Gornick is an essayist, memoirist, and literary critic. As a writer who is both Jewish and a woman, Gornick has described herself as “twice an outsider,” and this perspective has informed her work on subjects as varied as American communism, Second Wave feminism, the writing of personal narrative, and the practice of re-reading. In her memoir Fierce Attachments Gornick offers an extraordinary account of her own tempestuous relationship with her mother, detailing in precise, forceful prose the fallout from an extravagant family drama. In other works, like The Odd Woman and The City (2015) and The Situation and The Story (2001) she investigates what it means to love and live in the modern city; and what it means to struggle with personal narrative. In all her books she considers why we read, why we write, and how we find meaning—sometimes through writing, sometimes through political passion, and always through conflict and contestation. “To live consciously,” she writes, “is the real business of our lives.” A former fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University (2007-2008) and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1990), among other honors, Gornick lives in New York City.

The first words out of my mouth were: 'Wha-a-at? I don’t buh-live this!' VIVIAN GORNICK