Rachel Kushner Biography: American author Rachel Kushner was born in Eugene, Oregon, in 1968. She is the child of 2 Communist scientists, one Unitarian and one Jewish, whom she has referred to be “very unorthodox folks from the beatnik generation.” In 1979, Kushner and her family made the move to San Francisco. When Kushner was five years old, her mother arranged for her to work after school sorting and alphabetizing novels at a feminist bookshop. Kushner claims that from a young age, she knew she wanted to be a writer. With a focus on American foreign policy in Latin America, she started her political economy bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley when she was 16 years old.
When Kushner was 18 years old, she studied abroad in Italy as an exchange student. After earning her bachelor’s degree in arts, she settled in San Francisco and worked as a nightclub employee. She began the fiction program at Columbia University when she was 26 years old, and in 2000, she graduated with an MFA in creative writing. Don DeLillo, an American author, has influenced her work.
Kushner spent eight years in New York City after receiving her MFA, where she worked as an editor for BOMB and Grand Street. She has published a lot of articles about modern art, notably multiple ones in Artforum. The New York Times lauded Soft Targets as an “outstanding, Brooklyn-based journal of art, fiction, and poetry,” and she presently serves as its editor.
After the PEN American Center’s yearly Freedom of Expression Courage award was given to the French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, whose employees had been assassinated by Islamists in Paris 3 months earlier, Ms. Kushner made the decision to forego attending the gala. This decision was made in response to the PEN nominations in March 2015. Among the six authors that did so were Teju Cole, Francine Prose, Taiye Selasi, Peter Carey, and Michael Ondaatje. The magazine criticized Kushner for its “cultural intolerance” and endorsement of “a type of forced secular vision,” which was refuted by a number of observers.
Salman Rushdie referred to Kushner and her fellow demonstrators as “fellow travelers” of “fanatical Islam,” claiming that this issue had nothing to do with an oppressed and marginalized minority. It is directly related to the fight against extreme Islam, which is well-funded and well-organized and aims to frighten everyone Muslims and non-Muslims alike into silence. These six authors have adopted themselves as the project’s traveling companions. According to Katha Pollitt’s article in The Nation, many of the authors targeted by fundamentalists have been Muslims themselves.
These writers include the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, the Bangladeshi feminist, and writer Taslima Nasreen, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes by the regime, and, going back in time, the Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, thousands of Algerian intellectuals, and undoubtedly many more. These attacks were based entirely on perceived departures from accepted doctrine and had nothing to do with purportedly racist remarks made by wealthy white individuals.
The Flamethrowers, The Mars Room, and Telex from Cuba by well-known novelist Rachel Kushner, as well as her collection of short stories The Strange Case of Rachel K., have received praise from critics on a global scale. It will be released in April 2021. It is titled The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020. She has placed in the finals for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the James Tait Black Prize, the Folio Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Booker Prize, and the National Book Award in Fiction thrice.
She has also received the Prix Médicis. A Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award winner from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she is a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow. Her books have been translated into 26 other languages.
The Flamethrowers, Kushner’s most recent book, was released in April 2013 by Scribner. The Italian underground and the New York art scene of the 1970s were “ignited” by its “blazing writing,” according to Vanity Fair. Reviewer James Wood lauded the novel in The New Yorker as “radiantly vibrant. It teems with tales, anecdotes, dramatic monologues, cunning egotistical ridiculous stories, and misadventures; Kushner is never without a narrative to tell. It works as it is so rich in vividly unique histories and stories, all of which are unique and magnificently alive.” A 2013 National Book Award contender, The Flamethrowers.
Top 2013 reading lists for “The Flamethrowers” include those from New York Magazine, The New Yorker, Time Magazine San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times Book Review, The Oprah Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Vogue, Slate, Salon, Daily Beast, Wall Street Journal, Austin American-Statesman, The Millions, Flavorwire, and The Jewish Daily Forward.
Telex from Cuba, Kushner’s debut book, was released by Scribner in July 2008. She had the inspiration for her book after earning her MFA in 2000, and during the course of the 6 years it took her to complete it, she made three lengthy journeys to Cuba. The New York Times Book Review included a review of Telex from Cuba on its front page on July 6, 2008, praising it as a “multi-layered and engaging” book with sharp observations regarding human nature and colonialist bias that provide a comprehensive grasp of the revolution’s origins. The 2008 National Book Award finalist was Telex from Cuba. The editor of Kushner is Nan Graham.
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