Binnie Kirshenbaum, novelist and professor of fiction writing at the Columbia University Graduate School of the Arts, has agreed to serve as the professional judge for the 2011 Nick Adams Short Story Contest.
Open to any student at an ACM college, the Nick Adams Contest celebrates Ernest Hemingway’s young hero and the creative impulse of ACM students. Ms. Kirshenbaum is the author of six novels and two short story collections.
Ms. Kirshenbaum’s books include On Mermaid Avenue (1992), A Disturbance in One Place (1994), Pure Poetry (2000), Hester Among the Ruins (2002), An Almost Perfect Moment (2004), and The Scenic Route (2009). Her short story collections are Married Life and Other True Adventures (1990) and History on a Personal Note (1995).
Junot Diaz has called her “A tremendous talent. Her novels are sexy, intelligent, complex, and provocative; they press against your heart the way old lovers do.” Carlin Romano labeled her “the younger sister of Philip Roth,” and Norman Mailer wrote of her early work, “Not many young female novelists can deal with sex, the appetite for it, and the loss of such appetite, with such candor, lack of self-protection, and humor as Binnie Kirshenbaum.”
According to goodreads.com, Ms. Kirshenbaum’s “work is noted for its humorous and ribald prose, which often disguises themes of human loneliness and the yearning for connection. Her heroines are usually urban, very smart, and chastened by lifetimes of unwelcome surprises.”
Selected as one of the Best Young American Novelists by Granta Magazine, Ms. Kirshenbaum has also won two Critics’ Choice Awards. Her novels Hester Among the Ruins and An Almost Perfect Moment were named a Chicago Tribune Favorite Book of the Year in 2002 and 2005, respectively. She has also contributed to numerous magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times Magazine and the Los Angeles Times.
Her latest novel, The Scenic Route, received praise from Joyce Carol Oates as “an idiosyncratic and totally winning ‘romance’ in which sentiment and cynicism are poised in a most virtuoso performance.” In response to The Scenic Route, novelist Gary Shteyngart wrote, “Binnie Kirshenbaum is a fearlessly unsentimental storyteller, a gifted comic writer, and a thoughtful archeologist of family life.”
Ms. Kirshenbaum’s short stories in History in a Personal Note range from New York City to East Germany and from the suburbs to rural Virginia. In Booklist, Donna Seaman commented that Kirshenbaum’s “targets are the bland sentimentalities of romance and unexamined family life, the blank-eyed acceptance of prejudice, and the superficial presumptions of sexism. In this set of poignant and piquant short stories, Kirshenbaum explores the interface of grand events and ordinary lives, particularly the lives of women.” Seaman went on to note that “Her candor about the female psyche is not unlike Margaret Atwood’s, but her feisty voice, gutsy humor, mischievous dispassion, and gift for setting scenes and conjuring moments of realization are all her own.”
Binnie Kirshenbaum grew up in Westchester County, New York, received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Brooklyn College. Before joining the faculty at Columbia University, she taught at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York.
The Nick Adams Short Story Contest, held annually since 1973, offers a prize of $1,000 for the best story by a student at an ACM college. The prize was given by an anonymous donor to encourage young writers. The results of the competition will be announced in early May.