the short story project

Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem, an American novelist, essayist, and short story writer, is one of America’s top literary voices. He was born in New York in 1964 and attended Bennington College. He is the author of ten novels including Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn, which was named Novel of the Year by Esquire and won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Salon Book Award, as well as the Macallan Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger. Lethem has also written five short story collections, a novella, one comics book, a collection of essays, and numerous articles. His writings have appeared in the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, McSweeney’s, and many other periodicals. Lethem was born in Brooklyn to Judith Frank Lethem, a political activist, and Richard Brown Lethem, an avant-garde painter, as the eldest of three children. His parents divorced when Lethem was young. His father was Protestant and his mother was Jewish, from a family with roots in Germany, Poland, and Russia. She died of a brain tumor when Jonathan was thirteen. His brother Blake became an artist, and his sister Mara became a photographer, writer, and translator. The family lived in a commune in the pre-gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood of North Gowanus. Lethem lived in California for twelve years, working as a clerk in used-book stores, including Moe’s and Pegasus & Pendragon Books, and writing on his spare time. His first short story was published in 1989 and several more were published in the early 1990s. Lethem’s first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, was published in 1994 and is a merging of science-fiction and a detective story, and includes talking kangaroos, radical futuristic versions of the drug scene, and cryogenic prisons. Similar elements will characterize later many of his works. Lethem lives with his third wife and their son in Brooklyn, New York.



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