Joan Silber was raised in New Jersey and received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied writing with Grace Paley. She moved to New York after college and has made it her home ever since. She holds an M.A. from New York University.
She’s written nine books of fiction. Her newest, Secrets of Happiness, is out in May 2021 in the U.S. and in July 2021 in the U.K. Her last novel, Improvement, won The National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award. She also received the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. Her other works of fiction include Fools, longlisted for the National Book Award and finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, The Size of the World, finalist for the Los Angeles Times Prize in Fiction, and Ideas of Heaven, finalist for the National Book Award and the Story Prize. She’s also written Lucky Us, In My Other Life, and In the City, and her first book, Household Words, won the PEN/Hemingway Award.
She’s the author of The Art of Time in Fiction, a study of how various writers have used time.
Her short fiction has been chosen for the O. Henry Prize, Best American Short Stories, and the Pushcart Prize. Stories have appeared in Tin House, The Southern Review, Ploughshares, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and other magazines. She’s been the recipient of an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Joan taught fiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College for many years and teaches in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program. She’s also taught at Boston University, the 92nd Street Y, the University of Utah, and New York University. Her summer teaching has included conferences at Napa Valley, Bread Loaf, Indiana University, Manhattanville College, Stonecoast, Aspen, and Sarah Lawrence College.
Joan lives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, with her dog, Lucille, and she travels as often as she can, with a particular interest in Asia.