Discipline: Literature – nonfiction

Nell Bernstein

Discipline: Literature – nonfiction
Region: Albany, CA
MacDowell Fellowships: 2024

Nell Bernstein is the author of Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison. Launched with starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus and appearances on Fresh Air and the Tavis Smiley Show, the book went on to win the Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association, the Media for a Just Society Award, honorable mention for the Scribes Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Ritenhour Book Prize.

Her first book, All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated, was selected as a pick of the week by Newsweek, a best book of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle, and a top ten book of the year by the Online Review of Books. Both books have been adopted into the curricula of universities across the country.

Bernstein has spoken across the country about the impact of incarceration on young people and families and written for multiple national publications. She has been named a Soros Justice Fellow and received a White House Champion of Change award.

At MacDowell, she Nell Bernstein completed several chapters of an upcoming book on the national movement to close youth prisons. Her time at MacDowell created space for significant breakthroughs around structure and narrative voice. The book will be published by The New Press in 2025.



Nell Bernstein worked in the Banks studio.

Banks, an ell on the north end of the Lodge dormitory, was first used as an artist’s studio in 1970. Since then, it has played host to an extraordinary list of writers working in several disciplines. In all seasons, Fellows have enjoyed the pastoral view through the French doors facing a field…

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