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Francine Prose

Francine Prose is the author of more than twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 (Harper, 2014) and Blue Angel (HarperCollins, 2000), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times notable book. A former president of PEN American Center, Prose has received Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships, among other honors. She is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.


Photo by Jason Florio

Talisman: Ganesh

Fall 2013 | Essays

It’s been almost forty years since I bought an image of Sri Ganesh, the elephant-​headed Hindu god, from a street vendor in the Chor Bazaar—​the Thieves’ Market—​in Mumbai, which at that time was still Bombay. I’ve had the picture, surrounded by a simple black frame and protected by a durable pane of glass, on my writing desk ever since. 

An Open Letter to Doctor X

Spring 2006 | Fiction

Perhaps I should introduce myself. I am an attorney, currently employed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Relax, Doctor. Let me assure you. This is not that kind of letter. I mention my work only preemptively, anticipating what you might say: For just as it is your business to diagnose the physical and psychic pain of your patients, so my job requires me to be a bit of a student of human nature. To be good at what I do, I have had to learn to read the minds of criminals and innocent men, witnesses and jurors.


Writing Life: The Universal in the Particular

Fall 2004 | Essays

Enraged to discover that Germany did not possess any work by Michelangelo, his favorite artist, Hitler was mildly consoled to find a painting by Caravaggio—Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio—whom Hitler thought was the same person as Michelangelo Buonarroti. Next, he became enchanted by Correggio's erotic depiction of Leda and the Swan, though when his guide discovered him, transfixed before the painting, Hitler insisted he was only admiring the subtle play of light and shadow.