Joan Silber

Finalist, 2004 National Book Awards
Longlist, 2013 National Book Awards

Joan Silber, Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories, is the author of four other books of fiction–Lucky Us, In My Other Life, In the City, and Household Words, winner of a PEN/Hemingway Award. Her work appears in the current O. Henry Prize Stories and The Pushcart Prize, and in Norton’s The Story Behind the Story: 26 Stories by Contemporary Writers and How They Work. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Paris Review, and other magazines. She’s received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Silber lives in New York City and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and has taught in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program. She is currently at work on a novel about travel, and is also writing a book on time in fiction for Graywolf’s Craft of Fiction series. Silber says that the first story in Ideas of Heaven grew … Continue reading “Joan Silber”
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About the book

Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories

Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories by Joan Silber book cover, 2004
ISBN 9780393326871 W.W. Norton & Co.

Set in the past and present in France, Italy, New York, and China, these stories are linked in that a minor element in one becomes major in the next. More about this book >

About the book

Fools

Fools by Joan Silber book cover
ISBN 9780393088700 W.W. Norton & Company /

Fools is a luminous, intelligent, and rewarding work of fiction from the author for whom the Boston Globe said, "No other writer can make a few small decisions ripple across the globe, and across time, with more subtlety and power." More about this book >

Full Bio

Joan Silber

Joan Silber, Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories, is the author of four other books of fiction–Lucky Us, In My Other Life, In the City, and Household Words, winner of a PEN/Hemingway Award. Her work appears in the current O. Henry Prize Stories and The Pushcart Prize, and in Norton’s The Story Behind the Story: 26 Stories by Contemporary Writers and How They Work. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Paris Review, and other magazines. She’s received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Silber lives in New York City and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and has taught in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program. She is currently at work on a novel about travel, and is also writing a book on time in fiction for Graywolf’s Craft of Fiction series.

Silber says that the first story in Ideas of Heaven grew out of an incident someone told her about a dance coach humiliating his female student. The coach’s repeated question, “How much do you want it?” suggested, for Silber, the lure of a higher purpose and the religious impulse sometimes embedded in odd places. The story’s villain became the protagonist of the next story, and Silber saw that what she really wanted to write about was sex and religion– “forms of dedication, forms of consolation” -which she saw often filling in for each other.

  • Ideas of Heaven was also a finalist for the Story Prize in 2004.
  • Joan Silber’s first book, Household Words, won the PEN/Hemingway Award in 1981.

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