Discipline: Literature – fiction

Paul La Farge

Discipline: Literature – fiction
Region: Red Hook, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2014

Paul La Farge (1970-2023) was a writer and educator whose novels and short stories have been lauded for their artful ways of weaving fiction with historical figures. The native New Yorker earned a degree from Yale and did postgraduate work at Stanford, and taught as a visiting professor of English at Wesleyan from 2009 to 2010. He also taught at Bennington and Bard colleges as well as Columbia University. He also had Fellowships from Yaddo, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Academy of Berlin.

La Farge published five novels. The Artist of the Missing (1999), Haussmann, or the Distinction (2001), The Facts of Winter (2005), Luminous Airplanes (2011), and The Night Ocean (2017), which he worked on during his last MacDowell residency. Night Ocean is about the anthropologist Robert Barlow, and his occasional companion, the horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. It was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and the Shirley Jackson Award, and a Seattle Times Best Book of the Year.

His essays, short stories, and reviews have appeared in The Village Voice, Harper’s Magazine, McSweeney’s, The Believer, and The New Yorker. The author was known to dive deep into research for both his fiction and nonfiction. According to The New York Times, for a well-known 2006 piece for The Believer, he traveled to Wisconsin to play Dungeons & Dragons with a creator of the game. He’s won two California Book Awards and the Bard Fiction Prize (2005), given annually by Bard College, where he taught in the M.F.A. program. Paul told us the last time we communicated that if there were a prize for getting lost in the woods between the New Jersey Studio and the fire pond, he would be a contender for it, too.

Paul's family is honoring him by creating a fellowship in his name for a fiction writer at the beginning of their career. Paul felt that MacDowell gave him a chance at that point and had been grateful for it ever since. Click here to donate to the La Farge Fellowship and write "La Farge" in the Tribute comment box.


New Jersey

Paul La Farge worked in the New Jersey studio.

The yellow clapboard New Jersey Studio, located on a grassy, sloping site, was funded by the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs and built as an exact replica of Monday Music Studio (1913). The studio’s porch rests on fieldstone piers that increase in height as the ground slopes to the west. Like Monday Music Studio, New Jersey…

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