Cynthia Ozick was born in New York City, the second of two children. She moved to the Bronx with her Russian born parents. She earned her B.A. from New York University and went on to study at Ohio State University, where she completed an M.A. in English literature, focusing on the novels of Henry James. 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. She lives in Westchester County, New York. 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. 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.

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In 1971, Ozick received the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for her short story collection, The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories. 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. 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. 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).

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.”

“Miss Ozick strikes me as the best American writer to have emerged in recent years…Judaism has given to her what Catholicism gave to Flannery O’Connor.” Edmund White – New York Times

“Parading her erudition like a peacock, the owner of a self-conscious style, Cynthia Ozick is a writer’s writer. Her intellect is conducive to flashes of brilliance. Words are used sparingly, yet they are chosen for everyone to admire.”  Ilan Stavans, Times Literary Supplement

The author is considered one of the greatest fiction writers and critics alive today. At 88, she shows no signs of slowing down. Giles Harvey- The New York Times