Joan Silber

BA, Sarah Lawrence College. MA, New York University. Author of three story collections: Fools (National Book Award finalist and nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award), Ideas of Heaven (finalist for the National Book Award and the Story Prize), and In My Other Life; five novels: Improvement, The Size of the World, Lucky Us, In the City, and Household Words (winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award); short stories anthologized in The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, The Story Behind the Story, The O. Henry Prize Stories (2007 and 2003), and two Pushcart Prize collections. Recipient of a literature award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and grants from National Endowment for the Arts and New York Foundation for the Arts. SLC, 1985–

Graduate Courses

Writing 2017-2018

Fiction Workshop: Graduate Workshop in Novel and Linked Stories


The class is for students who are working on novels or on short stories that they plan to connect in some way. Workshops will ask what the fiction wants to mean and how it goes about conveying this. We’ll talk a good deal about shape and structure and creating narrative tension. Students will be asked to write tentative summaries for novels or annotated tables of contents for story collections and to think about how the parts will connect to the whole. Writers can expect their work to be read in sections rather than as completed entities. Most of the class time will be spent discussing student work, but we’ll also do outside reading and look at a range of examples.


Previous Courses

And Then What? Story Development

Open , Seminar—Fall

Anyone who has tried to write a story knows that it can be easy to come up with an idea but hard to take it far enough. And what’s far? What’s enough? We will look at different ways to push a story further. If plot is the vehicle of meaning, how does a story figure out what it means? We’ll spend time each week discussing stories by a range of authors, and writing assignments will be linked to those models. (These exercises are required at first and then become optional.) In conference, students will be encouraged to work on longer, more complicated pieces in order to grow their own notions of story. This course will be particularly useful for students with some experience in writing fiction, but all are welcome.