The New York Public Library's Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers Announces 2019-2020 Fellows

April 23, 2019 – The New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers has selected its 21st class of Fellows: 15 talented independent scholars, academics, and creative writers. The Fellows were selected from a pool of 481 applicants from 61 countries. The class of 2019 includes:

  • Academics Josephine Quinn, Eric W. Sanderson, Elizabeth Sears, and Justin E.H. Smith
  • Independent scholars Andrés Barba, Gilbert King, Carol Kino, Bill Goldstein, and Hua Hsu
  • Translator Susan Bernofsky
  • Fiction writers Mitchell S. Jackson, Sana Krasikov, Ben Marcus, and Sally Rooney
  • Poet Ken Chen

“The extraordinary range of this year’s Fellows is a testament to the depth of the Library’s collections and the strength of the Cullman Center,” said Anthony Marx, President of The New York Public Library. “I am honored to welcome each of them to the Schwarzman Building and eagerly await the exciting discoveries they will find at the Library.”

The 2019 class of Fellows will be in residence at the Cullman Center from September 2019 through May 2020. Each Fellow receives a stipend, a private office in the Cullman Center’s stately quarters at The New York Public Library’s landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, and full access to the renowned research collections and resources there, as well as the invaluable assistance of the Library’s curatorial and reference staff.

“The record-high number of applications, the many accomplishments of these Fellows, and the breadth of their projects demonstrate the Library’s still growing capacity to attract researchers interested in more or less anything that has touched human experience,” said Salvatore Scibona, Sue Ann and John Weinberg Director of the Cullman Center. “It’s a joy to support these writers and their books.”

The Center fosters an atmosphere of creative and scholarly collaboration both within the Library and in the larger cultural environment of New York, through informal lunch-time talks and public Conversations from the Cullman Center, a series of free evening programs that focus on the books past Fellows have 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 Blight, Ian Buruma, Jennifer Egan, Nathan Englander, Álvaro Enrigue, Hal Foster, Ian Frazier, Rivka Galchen, Annette Gordon-Reed, Anthony Grafton, Stephen Kotkin, Nicole Krauss, Hari Kunzru, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Hermione Lee, Larissa MacFarquhar, Megan Marshall, Ayana Mathis, Colum McCann, Richard McGuire, Pankaj Mishra, Lorrie Moore, C.E. Morgan, Joseph O'Neill, Téa Obreht, Darryl Pinckney, Lauren Redniss, Karen Russell, Stacy Schiff, James Shapiro, Dash Shaw, Mark Stevens, T.J. Stiles, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Colm Tóibín, Wells Tower, Rosanna Warren, Colson Whitehead, and Alejandro Zambra.

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

About the 2019-2020 Fellows

Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers


The Jean Strouse Fellow

Fireproof: A Biography of Rafael Guastavino

Andrés Barba is the author of more than fifteen books, including Such Small Hands, The Right Intention, Rain over Madrid, and August, October. He is the winner of the Torrente Ballester Prize, the Juan March Prize, and the Herralde Prize for Fiction, among others. His books have been translated into twenty languages, and he was named by Granta as one of the Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists, in 2010. At the Cullman Center he will work on a biography of the architect Rafael Guastavino.


Translation of The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

Susan Bernofsky directs the program in literary translation at the Columbia University School of the Arts. The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, she has translated classic works by Franz Kafka, Hermann Hesse, and Robert Walser, a biography of whom she is now completing. Her translation of Jenny Erpenbeck’s novel The End of Days won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize, the Ungar Award for Literary Translation, and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. Her translation of Yoko Tawada’s novel Memoirs of a Polar Bear won the inaugural Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. At the Cullman Center she will work on a new translation of Thomas Mann’s monumental novel The Magic Mountain.


Death Star

Ken Chen is the executive director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. He is the recipient of the Yale Younger Poets Award for his debut poetry collection, Juvenilia. A 2018 judge for the National Book Award in poetry, he is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. He co-founded the cultural website Arts & Letters Daily and CultureStrike, a national arts organization dedicated to migrant justice. A graduate of Yale Law School, he successfully defended the asylum application of an undocumented Muslim high school student from Guinea detained by the Department of Homeland Security. At the Cullman Center he will work on Death Star, a multi-genre book about attempting to return-migrate his father from the underworld and encountering there everything that has been destroyed by colonialism. 


Untitled Biography of Larry Kramer

Bill Goldstein, the founding editor of the New York Times books website, reviews books and interviews authors for NBC’s Weekend Today in New York. He is the author of The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, and the Year that Changed Literature, much of the research for which was done in the Berg Collection of The New York Public Library. A recipient of writing fellowships at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Ucross Foundation, and elsewhere, he is also curator of public programs at Roosevelt House, the public policy institute of Hunter College. While at the Cullman Center, he will work on the biography of Larry Kramer, to be published by Crown. 


July 19, 1998

Hua Hsu is a staff writer at the New Yorker and an associate professor of English at Vassar College. The author of A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific, he served on the editorial board for the essay collection A New Literary History of America. He has been a fellow at the New America Foundation and co-curated The Moon Represents My Heart, a show about music and Chinese American life at the Museum of Chinese in America. He serves on the executive board of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. At the Cullman Center he will work on a book about identity, grief, and listening to music with friends.


The Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow

John of Watts: A Novel

Mitchell S. Jackson is the author of The Residue Years, which won the Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Jackson is the winner of a Whiting Award, as well as fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, PEN America, TED, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Center for Fiction. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, the New York Times Book Review, the Paris Review, the Guardian, Tin House, and elsewhere. His nonfiction book Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family was recently published by Scribner. He is a clinical associate professor of writing in liberal studies at New York University. At the Cullman Center he will work on his novel John of Watts, about the rise and fall of a cult leader in Oregon.


How Long I Got to Fight

Gilbert King is the author of Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found. His previous book, Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2013, and was the runner-up in nonfiction for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize as well as a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize. In 2018, he was awarded the Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte Commitment to Justice Award by the Innocence Project of Florida. King has written about race, civil rights, and the death penalty for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic, and he is a contributor to the Marshall Project. At the Cullman Center, he will work on a narrative tentatively titled How Long I Got to Fight, about African American servicemen returning home to the Jim Crow South after World War II. 


The Fair-Haired Girls: The Twin Photographers Who Helped Define the Fashion Magazines of 1940s New York

Carol Kino writes about visual art and culture. A frequent contributor to WSJ. Magazine, she was previously a regular contributor to the New York Times. Her work has also appeared in the Atlantic and Slate, as well as Art in America, Artnews, and Art + Auction, where she was a contributing editor from 2001 to 2008. She was a USC Annenberg Getty Arts Journalism fellow twice, in 2007 and 2011. At the Cullman Center, she will work on a book about the McLaughlin twins, Frances McLaughlin-Gill and Kathryn Abbe, who were in the vanguard of the young female photographers who entered the magazine industry during World War II.


The Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellow

Helen and Elena: A Novel

Sana Krasikov is the author of the novel The Patriots and the story collection One More Year, which was named a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and The New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, and won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. The National Book Foundation has honored her as one of its 5 Under 35, and in 2017 she was named one of the Best of Young American Novelists by Granta. At the Cullman Center, she will work on a new novel about the culture wars surrounding children’s literature.


Untitled Novel

Ben Marcus is a professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. He is the author of several books, including The Age of Wire and String, The Flame Alphabet, and, most recently, Notes from the Fog. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, a Whiting Award, and the Berlin Prize, among other honors. His fiction has appeared in Harper’s, the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the Best American Short Stories. At the Cullman Center, he will research architecture and the religious imagination for his work on a new novel.


How the World Made the West: A Cosmopolitan History from the Bronze Age to the Age of Discovery

Josephine Quinn is associate professor of ancient history at the University of Oxford, and Martin Frederiksen Fellow and Tutor at Worcester College, Oxford. From 2016 to 2018, she was associate head of Oxford’s humanities division. She works on the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Near East, and writes for the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books, and the Times Literary Supplement. Her most recent book is In Search of the Phoenicians. At the Cullman Center she will work on How the World Made the West, the true story of what we now call Western civilization, from the Bronze Age to the Age of Discovery.


Beautiful World, Where Are You: A Novel

Sally Rooney is a novelist, short story writer, and critic based in Dublin. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, and the London Review of Books. She is the author of two novels, and her fiction has been longlisted for the Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, and awarded the Costa Novel Award and Sunday Times Young Writer Award, among others. At the Cullman Center she will be writing a new novel under the working title Beautiful World, Where Are You, examining aesthetics and political crisis. 


The Welikia Atlas: A Natural History of New York’s Five Boroughs

Eric W. Sanderson, senior conservation ecologist in the global conservation programs of the Wildlife Conservation Society, is a landscape ecologist and conservation biologist. He is the author of Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City and Terra Nova: The New World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs, as well as editor of several edited volumes. At the Cullman Center he will work on the sequel to Mannahatta, tentatively titled The Welikia Atlas: A Natural History of New York City’s Five Boroughs, describing in detail the ecology of the New York City region prior to European colonization and urbanization.


The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow

Academic Refugees in the 1930s: The Dispersion of the Warburg Circle

Elizabeth Sears is George H. Forsyth Jr. Collegiate Professor of the History of Art at the University of Michigan. A specialist in medieval art, she has focused recently on questions around the interpretation of visual artifacts and the phenomenon of intellectual movements and collective thought. Her research has been supported by the American Academy in Berlin, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. At the Cullman Center she will work on a book about the experience and impact of a network of émigré scholars and intellectuals who engaged with an “art historical cultural history” promulgated in pre-Nazi Hamburg by Aby Warburg and the circle around the Warburg Library.


The John and Constance Birkelund Fellow

Natural Philosophy and the Shaping of Modern Russia, 1696–1741

Justin E. H. Smith is professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Paris 7–Denis Diderot. He is the author of Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason; The Philosopher: A History in Six Types; Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference: Race in Early Modern Philosophy; and Divine Machines: Leibniz and the Sciences of Life. He is an editor-at-large of Cabinet Magazine. At the Cullman Center he will work on Natural Philosophy in the Making of Modern Russia, which traces the influence of G. W. Leibniz and of the Halle Pietists in the early St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences and in the scientific research carried out during the Second Kamchatka Expedition of 1731–41.

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, William W. Karatz, Merilee and Roy Bostock, and Cullman Center Fellows.  

Contact: Amy Geduldig | 212.592.7177

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