New York Public Library Announces New Class of Fellows at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers

APRIL 23, 2024—The New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers has selected 15 gifted academics, nonfiction writers, and creative writers for its 26th class of Fellows in 2024 – 2025. The Cullman Center is an international fellowship program open to people whose work will benefit directly from access to the collections at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

Books written at the Cullman Center have gone on to extraordinary acclaim and influence. In the last year alone, they have received a National Book Critics Circle Award, a National Book Award, and a Pulitzer Prize. 

The coming year’s Fellows were selected from a pool of 620 applicants from 66 countries and included a diverse range of academics, independent scholars, novelists, playwrights, poets, and others. They are:

  • Academics Oleg Budnitskii, Joseph Giovannini, James Goodman, Jochen Hellbeck, Jennifer Morgan, and Sara Roy
  • Fiction writers Isabella Hammad, Tracey Rose Peyton, and Patricio Pron
  • Nonfiction writers Heather Clark, Leslie Jamison, Iman Mersal, Emma Tarlo, and Abigail Santamaria
  • Graphic novelist Eric Orner

“The competition for this year’s Fellowships was stiffer than ever,” said Salvatore Scibona, the Sue Ann and John Weinberg Director of the Cullman Center. “The breadth and originality of the new Fellows’ work blew us away.”

Throughout the Fellowship term, which runs from September 2024 through May 2025, the new class of Cullman Center Fellows will have access to the renowned research collections and resources of The New York Public Library, as well as the invaluable assistance of its curatorial and reference staff. The Fellows receive a stipend of $85,000 and the use of a private office in the Cullman Center’s quarters at the Library’s landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. 

The Center fosters an atmosphere of creative and scholarly collaboration both within the Library and in the larger cultural environment of New York, which includes hosting public Conversations from the Cullman Center, a series of free programs that focus on the books Fellows worked on while in residence at the Library.

Cullman Center Fellows regularly receive distinguished honors and awards for these books. Prize-winning and prominent past Fellows include: André Aciman, Annie Baker, Elif Batuman, David Bell, David Blight, Jennifer Croft, Hernan Diaz, Jennifer Egan, Álvaro Enrigue, Ada Ferrer, Nicole Fleetwood, Ruth Franklin, Rivka Galchen, Annette Gordon-Reed, Anthony Grafton, Steven Hahn, Saidiya Hartman, Hua Hsu, Mitchell S. Jackson, Patrick Radden Keefe, Nicole Krauss, Hari Kunzru, Hermione Lee, Larissa MacFarquhar, Megan Marshall, Ayana Mathis, Richard McGuire, Lynn Melnick, Pankaj Mishra, Lorrie Moore, Téa Obreht, Gregory Pardlo, Caryl Phillips, Darryl Pinckney, Lauren Redniss, Sally Rooney, Karen Russell, Stacy Schiff, Danzy Senna, James Shapiro, Dash Shaw, Mark Stevens, T. J. Stiles, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Brandon Taylor, Colm Tóibín, Justin Torres, Edmund White, Colson Whitehead, and Alejandro Zambra.

For more information about the Center, its current and former Fellows, and its programs for teachers and the general public, visit


About the 2024 – 2025 Fellows


Oleg Budnitskii
"The Red Army Is Not Ideal": Soviet Soldiers' Violence Against Civilians, 1939–1947.

Oleg Budnitskii is a professor of history. From 2011 to 2023 he was the founding director of the Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences, at the National Research University–Higher School of Economics, Moscow. He is the author or coauthor of nine books, and editor or co-editor of twenty-seven other volumes on imperial Russian, Soviet, and modern Jewish history. His most recent books are War, Conquest, and Catastrophe: Jews in the Soviet Union: A History, 1939–1945 (coauthored with David Engel, Gennady Estraikh, and Anna Shternshis) and Another Russia: Studies in the History of the Russian Emigration. He is on the editorial boards of the Russian Review and East European Jewish Affairs. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including fellowships from the National Humanities Center in North Carolina, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Fulbright Program, the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and IREX. At the Cullman Center, he will work on a book about Soviet soldiers' violence against civilians during and after the Second World War.


Heather Clark
Cracked Stars Shining: A Life of Anne Sexton

Heather Clark is the author of three award-winning books, most recently Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath, which won the Truman Capote Award and the Slightly Foxed Prize; was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the LA Times Book Prize; and was a New York Times Top Ten Notable Book. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Fellowship, and a Yaddo residency. She is Vice President of BIO, Biographers International Organization, and Professor Emerita of contemporary poetry at the University of Huddersfield, UK. Her group biography, Waking in the Dark: The Boston Years of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, and Maxine Kumin, is forthcoming from Knopf. Her novel, The Scrapbook, will be published by Pantheon in 2025. At the Cullman Center, she will work on a biography of the American poet Anne Sexton.


Joseph Giovannini 
Zaha Hadid: A Biography

Joseph Giovannini is a critic, author, architect, and teacher based in New York. He has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles TimesArchitect MagazineArchitectural RecordArt in America, and the New York Review of Books, and has served as the architecture critic for New York Magazine, the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. He has also taught widely in graduate architecture programs. ​His book Architecture Unbound: A Century of the Disruptive Avant-Garde was published in 2021 by Rizzoli. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale, a master’s in French language and literature from Middlebury College, and a master’s in architecture from Harvard's Graduate School of Design. At the Cullman Center, he will be working on a biography of the architect Zaha Hadid.


James Goodman
No Way Out: On Sidney Poitier
The Janice B. and Milford D. Gerton/Arts and Letters Foundation Fellow

James Goodman is the author of essays, short stories, and three books: Stories of Scottsboro, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History; Blackout; and But Where Is the Lamb?: Imagining the Story of Abraham and Isaac. His work has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, the Shelby Cullom Davis Center, and Rutgers University–Newark, where he is a Distinguished Professor, teaching history and creative writing. He is currently working on two books. One is about aphorisms about history, how they sometimes help us understand what history is (and what it is good for) and how they often lead us astray. At the Cullman Center, he will be working on the other, tentatively titled No Way Out, on Sidney Poitier, for the Significations series at Penguin Random House.


Isabella Hammad
Untitled Novel
The Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow

Isabella Hammad is the author of The Parisian and Enter Ghost. Her writing has appeared in the Paris Review, the NationGrantaConjunctions, and elsewhere. She was awarded the Plimpton Prize, an O. Henry Award, the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Palestine Book Award and a Betty Trask Award, and her work has been supported by the Lannan Foundation and Columbia University’s Institute for Ideas and Imagination. At the Cullman Center, she will be working on a novel set in part at the 1955 Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung, Indonesia.


Jochen Hellbeck
Soviet Suffering Under Nazi Rule: A Forgotten History
​The John and Constance Birkelund Fellow

Jochen Hellbeck is a Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, whose work focuses on Soviet and modern European history. He is the author of Revolution on My MindStalingrad: The City that Defeated the Third Reich, and the forthcoming  A War Like No Other, which presents the standoff between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union as the central axis of the Second World War. At the Cullman Center, he will work on a book about Soviet suffering as a forgotten history of the Second World War. 


Leslie Jamison
The Stranger Self: Crafting the “I”

Leslie Jamison is the New York Times bestselling author of Splinters; The Empathy ExamsThe Recovering; Make it Scream, Make it Burn; and The Gin Closet. She is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, and has written frequently for many other publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the New York Review of Books, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. She directs the nonfiction writing program at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn with her family. During her Cullman Center Fellowship, she will be working on a book project that draws on personal experience, literary criticism, and archival research to examine the art of self-construction in several senses: exploring how writers of personal nonfiction build an “I” on the page, and how this literary process might illuminate the broader art of self-construction as a fundamental part of daily life.


Iman Mersal
Baghdad Ink

Iman Mersal is an Egyptian writer, translator and literary scholar. A professor of Arabic language

and literature at the University of Alberta, she is the author of five books of Arabic poetry. In English translation, her poems have appeared in the New Republic, the New York Review of BooksParnassusParis Review, and the Nation, among others. The Threshold translated by Robyn Creswell and published in 2022, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and won the 2023 National Translation Award. Mersal received the 2021 Sheikh Zayed Book Award in Literature for her creative nonfiction book Traces of Enayat. At the Cullman Center, she will work on Baghdad Ink, a mixture of personal memoir and political and cultural history, through archival research. 


Jennifer L. Morgan
The Eve of Slavery: Racial Inheritance in Seventeenth-Century North America
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow

Jennifer L. Morgan is professor of history at New York University in the Departments of Social and Cultural Analysis and of History. She is the author of  Reckoning with Slavery: Gender, Kinship and Capitalism in the Early Black Atlantic, which won the Mary Nickliss Prize in Women’s and/or Gender History from the Organization of American Historians and the Frederick Douglass Prize awarded by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University; and of Laboring Women: Gender and Reproduction in the Making of New World Slavery. Her research examines the intersections of gender and race in the early modern Black Atlantic. At the Cullman Center, she will work on a history of the origins of slavery and freedom in the seventeenth century that centers around Elizabeth Key—the black woman who sued for her freedom in Virginia in 1656—and other people of African descent who attempted to protect themselves and their children from the encroaching tide of racial slavery. 


Eric Orner
Dear Jimmy Carter
The Jean Strouse Fellow

Eric Orner is a cartoonist and graphic novelist whose “day jobs” as an attorney and speechwriter on Capitol Hill and in the Bloomberg and DeBlasio administrations have inspired his creative work, including Smahtguy: The Life and Times of Barney Frank. Earlier in his career  he created the widely published LGBTQ+ comic strip The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, which was anthologized in four books from St. Martin’s Press and adapted as a feature film in 2006. At the Cullman Center, he will work on a new graphic novel called Dear Jimmy Carter.  


Tracey Rose Peyton
By Hook or Crook
The Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellow

Tracey Rose Peyton is the author of Night Wherever We Go, which was a Barnes and Noble Discover Pick and was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction Debut Novel Prize and the California Book Award for first fiction. Her short work has appeared in Guernica, Prairie Schooner, American Short Fiction, and Best American Short Stories 2021. She is a two-time finalist for the Keene Prize for Literature and a recipient of grants and fellowships from the Michener Center for Writers, Hedgebrook, and Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. At the Cullman Center, she will work on a new novel about Black artmaking in the early twentieth century. 


Patricio Pron
That's How the Light Gets In

Patricio Pron, born in Argentina, is the author of six books of short stories and eight novels, including Don’t Shed Your Tears For Anyone Who Lives On These Streets, as well as multiple essays. His work has won awards including the Juan Rulfo, Cálamo, and Alfaguara prizes, and has been regularly anthologised and translated into twelve languages. His short stories have been published by the Paris Review, the Brooklyn RailConjunctionsHayden Ferry’s ReviewGuernicaChicago ReviewBOMB MagazineA Public Space, the Guardian and Zoetrope, and selected by Dave Eggers for The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010. In 2010 Granta chose him as one of the twenty-two best Spanish-language writers of his generation. Most recently, he was the Director's Guest at the artist residency Civitella Ranieri and visiting professor at the Department of Literature at the University of Cologne. Pron holds a PhD in Romance Philology from the Georg-August-University in Göttingen and lives in Madrid. His latest work is the novel La naturaleza secreta de las cosas de este mundo. At the Cullman Center he will work on a novel called That's How the Light Gets In.


Sara Roy
“A Rose Shoulders Up”: Reflections of a Jew in Gaza 

Sara Roy is an associate of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University where, for over thirty years, her work has focused on the Palestinian economy, Palestinian Islamism, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with an emphasis on the Gaza Strip. She is the author of The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-development and Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict among other books and writings. She has lectured widely in the US, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. Her work has been translated into several languages and her awards include the British-Kuwait Friendship Book Prize in Middle Eastern Studies. At the Cullman Center, she will work on a book that will reflect on her personal history as a child of Holocaust survivors and her experience with Palestinians under Israeli occupation, especially in Gaza, over nearly four decades.


Abigail Santamaria
I am Meg: The Life of Madeleine L’Engle

Abigail Santamaria is the author of Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C.S. Lewis. For her work as a biographer and essayist, she has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholars program, the Leon Levy Center for Biography, MacDowell, the American Philosophical Society, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and was named a Creative Writing Award finalist by the Cintas Foundation, an organization honoring artists of Cuban heritage. Santamaria’s essays have appeared in the New York Times Book ReviewVanity Fair, and the Wall Street Journal, among other venues. At the Cullman Center, she will work on a literary biography of Madeleine L’Engle.


Emma Tarlo
Separation: Apostasy and Its Afterlives

Emma Tarlo is an anthropologist, writer, curator, and professor emerita of anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has written five books and curated exhibitions in Britain and India. Her first book, Clothing Matters: Dress and Identity in India, was awarded the Coomaraswamy Prize. Her book Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair won the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing in 2017 and was the result of a three-year research project on the global trade in human hair supported through the award of a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship. She went on to curate several collaborative exhibitions on hair, most recently the touring exhibition Hair, Untold Stories co-curated with Sarah Byrne at the Horniman Museum in London. Her most recent book, Under the Hornbeams is a nonfiction memoir about her friendship with two men who have been living without shelter in London’s streets and parks for two decades. At the Cullman Center, she will work on a book of narrative nonfiction based on the interplay between personal diaries and literary and analytical accounts of the long-term social and psychological experiences faced by people who leave high demand religious groups. 

The Cullman Center is made possible by a generous endowment from Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman in honor of Brooke Russell Astor, with major support provided by Mrs. John L. Weinberg, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Estate of Charles J. Liebman, The von der Heyden Family Foundation, John and Constance Birkelund, and The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, and with additional gifts from Helen and Roger Alcaly, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, The Arts and Letters Foundation Inc., William W. Karatz, Merilee and Roy Bostock, and Cullman Center Fellows.

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