Discipline: Literature – nonfiction

Shazna Nessa

Discipline: Literature – nonfiction
Region: New York, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 2024

Shazna Nessa is an award-winning visual journalist and a former masthead editor and global head of visuals at The Wall Street Journal where her teams contributed to Pulitzer prize-winning work for high impact stories told through data visualization, photography, cartography, 3D, and design. Her prior roles include positions at The Knight Foundation, The Associated Press, and Condé Nast. Nessa was a finalist for a "Courage to Write" award from The De Groot Foundation in 2024.

Born in London, Nessa was awarded a degree in linguistics, literature, and history from the Sorbonne, Paris. She was a 2008 Sulzberger fellow at Columbia University and a 2014 John S. Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University.

At MacDowell, Nessa completed the second draft of her manuscript Beneath the Same Stars, a literary memoir about how she escaped a forced marriage from her parents’ homeland in Bangladesh, where she was taken from her home in London at age 16; a saga that made headlines and advanced new laws to protect girls. The book examines her family's experiences of colonization, war, and resettlement in London in a story that spans 65 years and crisscrosses the globe in her pursuit for an ever-shifting idea of freedom.



Shazna Nessa worked in the Chapman studio.

Chapman Studio was funded by Mrs. Alice Woodrough Chapman in memory of her husband, composer George Alexander Chapman. Symmetrically massed, the building is stuccoed on the exterior with a natural, unpainted cement. Its unusual half-timbered ornament consists of slender, knotty spruce poles painted a dark green color. A central, peak-roofed entrance porch appears on the north side…

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