Elise Juska biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Elise Juska

Elise Juska

Elise Juska Biography

Elise earned her Master's in Fiction Writing at the University of New Hampshire, where she received the Tom Williams Memorial for fiction writing and the Charait Award for best short story. She has since taught fiction writing at The New School in NYC, in the MFA program at the University of New Hampshire, and at various summer writing conferences.

Elise's fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Ploughshares, the Gettysburg Review, the Missouri Review, Good Housekeeping, the Hudson Review, Harvard Review, and many other publications. She is the recipient of the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction from Ploughshares and her work has been cited in The Best American Short Stories.

Elise now spends summers writing on an island in Maine and the rest of the year teaching in Philadelphia, where she directs the undergraduate Creative Writing Program at the University of the Arts.

Elise Juska's website

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Interview

A conversation with Elise Juska, author of The Blessings, about a close-knit Irish-Catholic family and the rituals that unite them.

What inspired you to write a novel about a family?
In a way, I feel as though as I've been writing this novel, or some version of it, for a long time. When I was in college and graduate school, I wrote several short stories about close extended families, always with this central image—the aunts around the dining room table, the uncles gathered around the TV, the quiet emphasis on food and children.

I grew up in a big family, one of sixteen cousins on my mother's side, and as I've gotten older, I've thought a lot about what the particular experience of being from a big family means. For me, and I imagine this is fairly common, the family—the beliefs and traditions, that long shared history—is a crucial part of who I am. At the same time, there are parts of my life that remain separate, and private, that the family couldn't or wouldn't know. Figuring out how to write the story I'd been circling since college was probably in part a matter of maturity—approaching the subject with more experience and (hopefully) more insight—and finding the right form in which to tell it.

You grew up in Philadelphia and still live there. Is The Blessings autobiographical or otherwise...

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Books by this Author

Books by Elise Juska at BookBrowse
The Blessings jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Elise Juska but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Jonathan Franzen

    Jonathan Franzen

    Jonathan Franzen was born in Western Springs, Illinois, in 1959, and grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. After graduating from Swarthmore College in 1981 he studied at the Freie Universität in ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Blessings

    Try:
    The Corrections
    by Jonathan Franzen

  • Ayana Mathis

    Ayana Mathis

    Ayana Mathis is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a recipient of the 2014-15 New York Public Library's Cullman Center Fellowship. The Twelve Tribes Of Hattie, her first novel, was a New York Times Bestseller, a ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Blessings

    Try:
    The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
    by Ayana Mathis

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