Annual programs

Bob Lucid Memorial Program in Fiction

March 24, 2022: The Claw

Piyali Bhattacharya is the editor of the NEA grant-winning anthology, Good Girls Marry Doctors: South Asian American Daughters on Obedience and Rebellion . She is currently finishing her first novel, and is Writer in Residence at Penn.

Ariel Delgado Dixon was born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey. Her debut novel, Don't Say We Didn't Warn You, was released in February 2022 by Random House. Her work has appeared in Kenyon Review, O: The Oprah Magazine, The Mississippi Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Philadelphia.

Stephanie Feldman is the author of the award-winning debut novel The Angel of Losses and co-editor of the multigenre anthology Who Will Speak for America? Her second novel, Saturnalia, will be published in October 2022.

Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the bestselling memoir In the Dream House, the award-winning short story collection Her Body and Other Parties, and the graphic novel The Low, Low Woods.

Sara Nović is the author of Girl at War, and America is Immigrants. Her second novel, True Biz, is out from Random House on April 5th.

Asali Solomon's latest novel, The Days of Afrekete has been called “a feat of engineering” by the New York Times. She is also the author of Disgruntled and Get Down: stories.

November 30, 2020: Amir Ahmadi Arian

Amir Ahmadi Arian has published a collection of stories, a nonfiction book, and two novels in Persian. In English, his work has appeared in The New York Times, New York Review of Books, Paris Review, The Guardian. He currently lives in New York where he earned an MFA in the NYU Creative Writing Program as The Axinn Foundation/E.L. Doctorow Fellowship recipient, and teaches literature and creative writing at CUNY City College and Baruch College.

November 19, 2019: Salar Abdoh

Salar Abdoh is an Iranian novelist and essayist who has authored The Poet Game and Opium. He has also edited and translated the anthology Tehran Noir, and his last book, 2014, was Tehran At Twilight. He lives in Tehran as well as New York City where he teaches Creative Writing in the MFA program at the City College of the City University of New York. Photo credit: Mehri Rahimzadeh (Tehran, Iran)

October 1, 2018: Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan's 2017 novel, Manhattan Beach, has been awarded the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. Egan was born in Chicago and raised in San Francisco. She is also the author of The Invisible Circus, a novel which became a feature film starring Cameron Diaz in 2001, Look at Me, a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction in 2001, Emerald City and Other Stories, The Keep, and A Visit From the Goon Squad, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the LA Times Book Prize. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harpers, Granta, McSweeney's and other magazines. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. Also a journalist, she has written frequently in the New York Times Magazine. Her 2002 cover story on homeless children received the Carroll Kowal Journalism Award, and "The Bipolar Kid" received a 2009 NAMI Outstanding Media Award for Science and Health Reporting from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

October 12, 2017: Orhan Pamuk

Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. His novel My Name Is Red won the 2003 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His work has been translated into more than sixty languages.

November 3, 2016: Alexandra Kleeman

Alexandra Kleeman lives in Staten Island. She is the author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine and Intimations, a collection of short stories, coming out in September 2016. Her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Zoetrope: All-Story, Conjunctions, BOMB, The White Review, and Guernica. Her nonfiction has appeared in Harper's, ELLE, Tin House, and n+1. She won the 2016 Bard Fiction prize, and she is a finalist for the prestigious Young Lions award of the New York Public Library which is championed by Ethan Hawke and other notables. She received her MFA in fiction from Columbia University, and has received grants and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Santa Fe Art Institute.

October 15, 2014: Lance Olsen

As this year’s Bob Lucid Fiction Program featured reader, Lance Olsen graced the Arts Cafe podium with neon–framed glasses and an ambitious experimental agenda. A writer who “focuses on the ‘new’ part of ‘novel,’” as Alli Katz quipped in her introduction, Olsen accompanied his presentation with an expansive assortment of multimedia. The photographs, videos and slides were consonant with his pastiche–like a pproach to novel–writing: Olsen’s 2014 work Theories of Forgetting combines third–person narrative, collaged personal ephemera and annotations. It draws on Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty earthwork, of which Olsen explained a fascinating and encyclopedic history. Olsen spoke rapidly and with energy, bringing his wit to bear on one topic after another. After delving into the “spiral” structure of the novel, his theories and inspirations, Olsen focused his reading on the conventionally linear, third–person portion of the novel. Never to remain constrained by a typical narrative, though, he went on to present two experimental films, one created as an integral part of Theories of Forgetting. Olsen ended the evening showcasing his virtuosity as he fielded questions on topics from Navajo sand–painting to his experiences in publishing. As Katz anticipated in her introduction, Olsen managed to “make [a] reading strange again.”

October 22, 2013: Ken Kalfus

Ken Kalfus is the author of three novels, Equilateral (2013), The Commissariat of Enlightenment (2003), and A Disorder Peculiar to the Country, which was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award and has appeared in several foreign editions, including French and Italian translations. He has also published two collections of stories, Thirst (1998) and Pu-239 and Other Russian Fantasies (1999), a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Kalfus has received a Pew Fellowships in the Arts award and a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He's written for Harper's, The New York Review of Books, and The New York Times. A film adaptation of his short story, "Pu-239," aired on HBO in 2007.

Kalfus was born in New York in 1954, grew up in Plainview, Long Island, and has lived in Paris, Dublin, Belgrade and Moscow. He currently lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron. For more information visit:

October 16, 2012: Ben Marcus

“It’s just a regular disaster,” said Thomson Guster of Ben Marcus’s The Flame Alphabet in his reflective introduction to this year’s Bob Lucid Memorial Program reading: “It’s everywhere, it unfolds very slowly and very obviously, just how like they unfold in real life.” As Marcus took the stage in an ordinary graphic tee, quotidian catastrophe indeed seemed present as the author wrangled a rogue microphone, joking “OK, I can’t read.” But when Marcus did begin to read his work, detailing, bitterly, a dystopian epidemic in which speech becomes a “noxious oral product” to which only children are immune, the possibility of the genuinely catastrophic became all too real. Still, the reading maintained a degree of humor as Marcus interrupted his grim (but compelling) descriptions of adult victims being killed by their own offspring with his own irrepressible interjections and comments; at one point, he paused to admit “I’ve always hated this character’s name,” and solicited suggestions for a replacement from the audience, rejecting “Judith” in favor of “Richmond.” Cynicism seethed from each of the characters, and in a question-and-answer session, Marcus explained that he modeled most of them on himself. He also mused on the role of Jewish mysticism in the book and his feelings on teaching creative writing before the evening’s end.

September 13, 2011: Blanche Boyd

Blanche McCrary Boyd is the Roman and Tatiana Weller Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at Connecticut College. She has written four novels, Nerves, Mourning the Death of Magic, The Revolution of Little Girls and Terminal Velocity, and a collection of essays titled The Redneck Way of Knowledge. Blanche has also published a large body of articles, short fiction, and screenplays. Among the awards she has won are a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993-1994, a National Endowment for the Arts Fiction Fellowship in 1988, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing from Stanford University in 1967-1968, and the Lamda Award for Lesbian Fiction (which she received in 1991).

February 9, 2011: Phillip Lopate

introduced by Max Apple

Phillip Lopate was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943. He has written three personal essay collections—Bachelorhood (Little, Brown, 1981), Against Joie de Vivre (Poseidon-Simon & Schuster, 1989), and Portrait of My Body (Doubleday-Anchor, 1996); two novels, Confessions of Summer (Doubleday, 1979) and The Rug Merchant (Viking, 1987); two poetry collections, The Eyes Don't Always Want to Stay Open (Sun Press, 1972) and The Daily Round (Sun Press, 1976); a memoir of his teaching experiences, Being With Children (Doubleday, 1975); a collection of his movie criticism, Totally Tenderly Tragically (Doubleday-Anchor); an urbanist meditation, Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan (Crown, 2004); and a biographical monograph, Rudy Burckhardt: Photographer and Filmmaker (Harry N. Abrams, 2004.) In addition, there is a Phillip Lopate reader, Getting Personal: Selected Writings (Basic Books, 2003). His most recent books are Two Marriages (novellas, Other Press, 2008), Notes on Sontag (Princeton University Press, 2009), and At the End of the Day: Selected Poems (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010). He has received many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, two NEA grants, and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the NYU Institute for the Humanities. After working with children for twelve years as a writer in the schools, he has taught creative writing and literature at Fordham, Cooper Union, University of Houston, New York University, Hofstra University, the New School and Bennington College. He is now a Professor in the graduate division at Columbia University.

April 10, 2010: Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis is the author of, most recently, The Collected Stories (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009). She is also the translator of the latest Swann's Way, by Marcel Proust, and her translation of Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert, will be appearing this Fall as a Penguin Classic. She lives in upstate New York and is on the faculty of SUNY Albany and a Fellow of the New York State Writers Institute.

March 18, 2009: Stuart Dybek

Introduced by Max Apple

Stuart Dybek is the author of three books of fiction: I Sailed With Magellan, The Coast of Chicago, and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. Both I Sailed With Magellan and The Coast of Chicago were New York Times Notable Books, and The Coast of Chicago was a One Book One Chicago selection. Dybek has also published two collections of poetry: Streets in Their Own Ink and Brass Knuckles. His fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic, Poetry, Tin House, and many other magazines, and have been widely anthologized, including work in both Best American Fiction and Best American Poetry. Among Dybek's numerous awards are a MacArthur Prize, the Rea Award "for significant contribution to the short story form," PEN/Malamud Prize "for distinguished achievement in the short story," a Lannan Award, a Whiting Writers Award, an Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, several O.Henry Prizes, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is Distinguished Writer in Residence at Northwestern University and a member of the permanent faculty for Western Michigan University's Prague Summer Program.