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Award-Winning Novelist Salvatore Scibona Named Director of The New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers


August 10, 2017—The award-winning novelist Salvatore Scibona has been named the Sue Ann and John Weinberg Director of The New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

Scibona, a recent Cullman Center Fellow, will begin his tenure as leader of the prestigious international fellowship program on September 5, 2017, succeeding Jean Strouse, who is leaving after 14 years to write a book about John Singer Sargent’s 12 portraits of the Asher Wertheimer family.  

"As an accomplished writer and former Cullman Center Fellow, Salvatore is a perfect fit for this position," said Bill Kelly, NYPL's Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Research Libraries. "We know Salvatore will continue the tradition of excellence at the Cullman Center fostered by Jean Strouse, and we know future Fellows will thrive under his stewardship."

"This job comes with the best company any writer could hope for," said Scibona. "The depth of understanding at work in these rooms, the breadth of materials available for the Fellows to study, and the time and support the Fellows are given leaves them with a terrible problem: they have hardly any excuse not to do the best work of their lives."

For nine years, from 2004 through 2013, Scibona administered the residential writing fellowship program at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. From 2013 to 2016, he was a professor of English and creative writing at Wesleyan University.  

His virtuosic 2008 novel, The End, won The New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award. In 2010, Scibona was named one of The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" young fiction writers to watch. His short fiction has been awarded a Pushcart Prize and an O. Henry Award, and his work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper's, The San Francisco Chronicle, and GQ Italia. In addition to his fellowship at the Cullman Center, Scibona has held fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; he has won a Whiting Writers' Award and residencies in France, Italy, and Latvia. 

His second novel, Everyone, completed at the Cullman Center, will be published by Penguin Press in 2019. His third is scheduled to be released in 2021. 

The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers is an international fellowship program open to academics, independent scholars, artists, and creative writers whose work will benefit directly from access to the collections at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The Center appoints 15 Fellows a year for a nine-month term at the Library, from September through May. In addition to working on their own projects, the Fellows engage in ongoing exchanges of ideas within the Center, throughout the Library, and in public programs open to all New York. 

Since the Center opened in 1999, its Fellows have published 125 books informed by their use of The New York Public Library’s research collections. Cullman Center Fellows have won 9 MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Awards, 10 Pulitzer Prizes, 6 National Book Awards, 4 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Awards, 3 National Humanities Medals from the White House, and 1 Herralde Prize.

Past Fellows of the Cullman Center include André Aciman, Elif Batuman, David Blight, Ian Buruma, Andrew Delbanco, Brent Edwards, Jennifer Egan, Nathan Englander, Alvaro Enrigue, James Fenton, Angela Flournoy, Hal Foster, Ian Frazier, Rivka Galchen, Annette Gordon-Reed, Anthony Grafton, Ben Katchor, Patrick Radden Keefe, Daniel Kehlmann, Nicole Krauss, Hari Kunzru, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Hermione Lee, Larissa MacFarquhar, Megan Marshall, Ayana Mathis, Colum McCann, Richard McGuire, Pankaj Mishra, C.E. Morgan, Joseph O'Neill, Téa Obreht, George Packer, Darryl Pinckney, Francine Prose, 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.

During her tenure as the Cullman Center’s Weinberg Director, Jean Strouse helped launch a number of careers and fostered a uniquely collaborative atmosphere among Fellows. Through public programs such as  the Conversations from the Cullman Center series and partnerships with organizations including the Morgan Library and The New York Review of Books, she made the Fellows—and, by extension, the Library's research collections—accessible to new and wider audiences. 

The author of  biographies of Alice James and J. Pierpont Morgan, Strouse herself has received several prestigious awards, including Columbia’s Bancroft Prize and fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the NEH, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She has written for The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, and The New Yorker, among other publications. Her new book will be published by Penguin Random House.  

"Salvatore is a brilliant choice for the Cullman Center, the Library, and the community of past and future Fellows," said Strouse. "His first-hand knowledge of the Center, gifts as a writer, administrative acumen, and great sense of humor will make these coming years terrific for everyone. The Center’s three directors now reflect the areas of work the Fellowships support: academic (Peter Gay), nonfiction (me), and creative writing (Salvatore)."

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 Rona Jaffe Foundation, The Mrs. Giles Whiting 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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