Professional Bio

  • Ph.D., Nonfiction Writing, University of Houston

David Lazar received the first Ph.D. in the United States in nonfiction writing, in 1989, from the University of Houston. His books include Occasional Desire (Nebraska), Essaying the Essay (Welcome Table), Powder Town (Pecan Grove), After Montaigne (nominated for the National Book Awards Critics Circle Award), Who’s Afraid of Helen of Troy (Etruscan Press), The Body of Brooklyn  and Truth in Nonfiction (both Iowa); and Michael Powell: Interviews and Conversations with M.F.K. Fisher (both Mississippi). In 2014-15 he is curating a digital chapbook on nonfiction editing for The Press. Six of his essays have been "Notable Essays of the Year" according to Best American Essays, the latest in 2014. He created the undergraduate and Ph.D. programs in nonfiction writing at Ohio University and directed the creation of the undergraduate and MFA programs in nonfiction writing at Columbia College, Chicago, where he is professor of creative writing. He is the founding editor of the literary magazine Hotel Amerika, now in its 13th year.

David is most interested in the essay in all its variations—personal, autobiographical, formal, informal—but he also greatly appreciates any nonfiction writing that challenges generic boundaries and hints at hybrid forms.