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The New York Public Library's Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers Announces 2016-2017 Fellows


Angela Flournoy, George Packer, Daniel Kehlmann, Jennifer Homans, Akhil Sharma among members of 2016 - 2017 class

April 11, 2016 - The New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers has selected its 18th class of Fellows: 15 exceptionally talented independent scholars, academics, and creative writers, whose work will benefit directly from access to the collections at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Chosen out of 310 applicants from 28 countries, the 2016 class of Cullman Center Fellows includes:

  • Fiction writers Carys Davies, Angela Flournoy, Daniel Kehlmann, Salvatore Scibona, Akhil Sharma
  • Poet Sally Wen Mao
  • Nonfiction writers Jon Gertner, Jennifer Homans, George Packer, Jonathan Stevenson 
  • Academics Nicole Fleetwood, Hilary Hallett, Saidiya Hartman, Natan Meir, Michael Reynolds

"I am delighted to welcome this fantastic new class of Cullman Center Fellows to The New York Public Library," said Tony Marx, President of NYPL. "Our amazing collections and expert staff will no doubt inspire fascinating and important new works."

The 2016 class of Fellows will be in residence at the Cullman Center from September 2016 through May 2017. Each Fellow receives a stipend, a private office in the Cullman Center’s handsome 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 online resources there, as well as the invaluable assistance of the Library’s curatorial and reference staff. The projects the Fellows will work on during their tenure include: biographies of George Balanchine (Jennifer Homans), Richard Holbrooke (George Packer), Enver Pasha (Michael Reynolds), Elinor Glyn (Hilary Hallett), and Philip Agee (Jonathan Stevenson); story collections (Carys Davies and Akhil Sharma); a close look at Greenland in the era of climate change (Jon Gertner); studies of prison art (Nicole Fleetwood),  daily life in the poorest neighborhoods of Philadelphia and New York around the turn of the 20th century (Saidiya Hartman), and outcasts of East European Jewish society  in the modern period up to the Holocaust (Natan Meir); and novels about a group of African American women in Los Angeles and New York  set in the near future  (Angela Flournoy), King Frederic V of Bohemia, whose brief reign set in motion the Thirty Years’ War (Daniel Kehlmann), a family of American servicemen (Salvatore Scibona); and a collection of poems (Sally Wen Mao).

“We greatly look forward to having this terrific group of people in residence at the Center and the Library,” said Jean Strouse, the Sue Ann and John Weinberg Director of the Cullman Center.  “The range of these projects reflects the fantastically rich nature of NYPL’s research collections, and the ongoing cross-disciplinary conversation among fellows is sure to be productive and exciting.”

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 Fellows worked on while in residence at the Library.

Cullman Center Fellows often receive distinguished honors and awards for these books.  Prize-winning and prominent past Fellows include: Andre Aciman, Elif Batuman, Sven Beckert, Thomas Bender, David Blight, Ian Buruma, Robyn Cresswell, Brent Hayes Edwards, Jennifer Egan, Nathan Englander, James Fenton, Hal Foster, Ian Frazier, Rivka Galchen, Keith Gessen, Annette Gordon-Reed, Anthony Grafton, Greg Grandin, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Patrick Radden Keefe, Stephen Kotkin, Nicole Krauss, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Hermione Lee, Megan Marshall, Ayana Mathis, Colum McCann, Richard McGuire, Pankaj Mishra, Joseph O'Neill, Téa Obreht, Gary Panter, Darryl Pinckney, Lauren Redniss, Karen Russell, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, Stacy Schiff, Danzy Senna, James Shapiro, Adam Shatz, Dash Shaw, Mark Stevens, T.J. Stiles, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Colm Tóibín, Wells Tower, and Colson Whitehead.

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

About the 2016-2017 Fellows at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers

Carys Davies
The Testimonies of Alys Teeg (fiction)
The British writer Carys Davies is the author of two collections of short stories. Her second collection, The Redemption of Galen Pike, won the 2015 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and the 2015 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. Davies also won the Royal Society of Literature's VS Pritchett Prize and the Society of Authors' Olive Cook Short Story Award. At the Cullman Center she will be working on a new collection of stories about love and morality in wild or lonely places. 

Nicole Fleetwood
Carceral Aesthetics: Prison Art and Public Culture
The ACLS/NYPL Fellow
Nicole R. Fleetwood is Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is the author of Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness and On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination, and she has received fellowships from the NEH, NYPL's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Professor Fleetwood will be working at the Cullman Center on a book about prison arts.   

Angela Flournoy
Untitled Novel
The Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellow
Angela Flournoy's debut novel, The Turner House, was a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She was honored as one of 5 Under 35 fiction writers by the National Book Foundation in 2015, and her writing has appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Times, The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times. She has taught at The University of Iowa, The New School, and Columbia University. While at the Cullman Center she will be writing a novel that traces the lives and friendships of a group of contemporary African American women from 2015-2035 in Los Angeles and New York City.

Jon Gertner
The Ice at the End of the World: Greenland’s Past, Present, and Future
Jon Gertner is the author of The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation. A frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine and a range of other publications, he writes about climate change, technology, and innovation, exploring relationships between science, history, economics, and social progress. During his year at the Cullman Center, he will work on a book about Greenland.

Hilary Hallett
"The Syren Within": Elinor Glyn and the Invention of Glamour
Hilary A. Hallett is an associate professor of modern American cultural history at Columbia University, where her research focuses on relationships among popular culture, gender, and sexuality in Anglo-America. Her first book, Go West, Young Women! The Rise of Early Hollywood, explores the sexual politics that drove the American film industry’s transformation into Hollywood. At the Cullman Center she will be working on a biography of Elinor Glyn, the British "sex novelist" and early Hollywood personality who reshaped ideas about heterosexuality.

Saidiya Hartman
Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow
Saidiya Hartman is the author of Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Slave Route and Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery and Self-Making in Nineteenth Century America. She is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and has received Fulbright, Rockefeller, and Whitney Oates Fellowships. The book she will work on at the Cullman Center, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, examines the sexual upheavals and radical transformations of daily life that took place in the slums of Philadelphia and New York in the years between 1890 and 1930. 

Jennifer Homans
George Balanchine, A Biography
Jennifer Homans, the author of Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet, is the Founder and Director of The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University, where she is also a Distinguished Scholar in Residence. Homans holds a Ph.D. in Modern European History. Before becoming a writer and scholar, she was a professional dancer. At the Cullman Center she will be working on a biography of George Balanchine. 

Daniel Kehlmann
The Winter King, A Novel
Daniel Kehlmann is a German writer who lives in New York and Berlin. His prize-winning novels include Me and Kaminski, Measuring the World, Fame and F. While at the Cullman Center he will work on a novel about Frederic V, the "Winter King," whose short-lived reign in 1619 set in motion a series of events that eventually became known as the Thirty Years’ War.

Sally Wen Mao
Oculus (poems)
Sally Wen Mao is the author of Mad Honey Symposium, which was named a Top Ten Debut poetry collection of 2014 by Poets & Writers magazine. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, A Public Space, Poetry, Guernica, Harvard Review Online, The Missouri Review, and Washington Square, among other publications. She was the 2015-2016 Writer-in-Residence at the National University of Singapore, and has taught writing, poetry, and Asian American literature at Cornell University and Hunter College. During her year at the Cullman Center she will work on her second collection of poems, Oculus

Natan Meir
"Republic of Beggars": The Jewish Destitute, Disabled, and Dispossessed in Eastern Europe
Natan M. Meir is the Lorry I. Lokey Associate Professor of Judaic Studies at Portland State University. He is the author of Kiev, Jewish Metropolis: A History, 1859-1914, the co-editor of Anti-Jewish Violence: Rethinking the Pogrom in East European History, and he has served as an academic consultant for the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center of Moscow. The book he will work on at the Cullman Center explores the lives and roles of the outcasts of East European Jewish society in the modern period up to the Holocaust.

George Packer
Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century
The John and Constance Birkelund Fellow
George Packer is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and the author of five works of non-fiction, two novels, and a play. His most recent book, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, won the 2013 National Book Award for nonfiction. As a Cullman Center fellow he will work on a book about the late American diplomat Richard Holbrooke and the role of America in the world from Vietnam to Afghanistan.

Michael Reynolds
Enver Pasha and the Transformation of the Middle East and Muslim Eurasia
Michael A. Reynolds is Associate Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. His book Shattering Empires: The Clash and Collapse of the Ottoman and Russian Empires, 1908-1918, won the George Louis Beer Prize of the American Historical Association. At the Cullman Center he will be working on a biography of Enver Pasha (1881-1922), the hero of the Ottoman Constitutional Revolution of 1908, a member of the Young Turk triumvirate, and the Ottoman Minister of War during World War I. 

Salvatore Scibona
Untitled Novel
The David Ferriero Fellow
Salvatore Scibona’s first novel, The End, was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Young Lions Fiction Award from The New York Public Library. Scibona has won a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and a Fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where he serves on the Writing Committee. In 2010, he was included in The New Yorker’s "20 Under 40" list of writers to watch. For his short fiction, published in A Public Space, Harper’s, and The New Yorker, he has won a Pushcart Prize and an O. Henry Award. During his year at the Cullman Center he will be writing a novel about a family of American servicemen, veterans of the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Akhil Sharma
Akhil Sharma is the author of the novels Family Life (winner of the 2015 Folio Prize) and An Obedient Father (which won the 2001 Pen Hemingway Award). His short stories have appeared in The New Yorker and The Atlantic and have been widely anthologized in collections such as Best American Short Stories. Sharma teaches at Rutgers-Newark and lives in New York City. He will be working at the Cullman Center on a collection of stories and essays titled Cosmopolitan

Jonathan Stevenson
A Cultural Biography of Philip Agee
The Gilder Lehrman Fellow
Jonathan Stevenson, Senior Fellow for US Defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, was a professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College from 2005 to 2016, and served as National Security Council Director for Political-Military Affairs, Middle East and North Africa, from 2011 to 2013. His books include We Wrecked the Place: Contemplating an End to the Northern Irish Troubles and Thinking Beyond the Unthinkable: Harnessing Doom from the Cold War to the Age of Terror. His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, and The New York Times. He will be working at the Cullman Center on a cultural biography of Philip Agee (1935-2008), the only CIA officer to turn against the Agency for ideological reasons and expose U.S. intelligence officers and agents.

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, John and Constance Birkelund, The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, and additional gifts from The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Helen and Roger Alcaly, The Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, William W. Karatz, Mary Ellen von der Heyden,  Merilee and Roy Bostock,  The Arts and Letters Foundation, Lybess Sweezy and Ken Miller, and Cullman Center Fellows.

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