Cynthia Ozick

Cynthia Ozick is a New York-based essayist, short story writer and novelist.

Selected Works:

The Puttermesser Papers; The Pagan Rabbi and Other StoriesThe Shawl; Dictation: A Quartet; The Din in the Head: Essays


Nominee for the National Book Award (The Puttermesser Papers), 1984 nominee for the PEN/Faulkner Award, 2000 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism (Quarrel and Quandary), 1986 recipient of the Rea Award for the Short Story

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Which one or two American books or plays would you yourself recommend to the foreign leaders?

Daniel Deronda by George Eliot 

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster  

A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz

The reason? To educate their hearts. And to lift the scales from their eyes.

Who in your childhood—for example, parent or teacher—encouraged you to read books, and which one or two books do you remember most fondly?

My father, mother, brother, cousins, playmates, everyone I knew was reading. I read books from the public library and books recommended (a classmate put me onto Vanity Fair, and I stayed up with it all one night and into noon of the next day, unable to stop). An uncle who was a poet gave me Just So Stories, another uncle brought a three-volume Shakespeare set, a third uncle passed on his son's Don Quixote... “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive!”

Which books by writers of the other G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom) have been most important to you as a writer?

Russia: Chekhov, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Bunin, Nabokov, the Yiddish writers Chaim Grade, Sholem Aleichem, Peretz

Britain: Oh! Countless! Austen, George Eliot, James, Conrad, Forster, Woolf, Byatt ... Countless!

Czechoslovakia: Kafka

Austria: Joseph Roth

Germany: Heine, Thomas Mann

France: Maupassant, Balzac, Proust

Italy: Lampedusa

Spain: Cervantes!

What is the Power of the Word Exhibit?

Power of the Word: Leaders, Readers and Writers is the first online exhibition of The American Writers Museum. As world leaders gather in the U.S. this spring, The American Writers Museum Foundation is inviting American writers and readers to explore the power of the word and join in a discussion of how American books can help readers in other parts of the world better understand our culture.

Leaders Gallery

An exploration into what some of the world’s most powerful leaders like to read, and how reading has influenced them.

Writers Gallery

American writers comment on their early experiences with reading and name the books they think world leaders should read in order to better understand American culture.

Readers Gallery

An interactive, open forum where readers are invited to join the discussion by answering the question: Which American works of literature do you think leaders from other nations should read in order to gain a better understanding of America?

We would like to thank our exhibit sponsors for their generous support:


What is The American Writers Museum?

The mission of The American Writers Museum Foundation is to establish the first national museum in the United States dedicated to engaging the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture and our daily lives. Learn more at