Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan is a New York-based novelist and short story writer.

Selected Works:

A Visit From the Goon Squad, The Keep, Look At Me, The Invisible Circus, Emerald City and Other Stories


Nominated in 2001 for the National Book Award (Look at Me); 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner (A Visit From the Goon Squad); the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (A Visit From the Goon Squad); LA Times Book Prize (A Visit From the Goon Squad)

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Which American books or plays would you recommend to the foreign leaders to help them better understand America?

Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby,  Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, Joyce Carol Oates's You Must Remember This, Don DeLillo's Underworld and Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake.

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 mother has always been a huge reader; she read to me as soon as I was born, and taught me to read at age 4. Our reading tastes are still quite similar. As for childhood favorites, I'd say the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, which I feel I actually LIVED, and Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, which obsessed me at age 11 and—I think—inspired me to write a gothic novel years later.

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

I love 19th-century writing from both Russia and France:  Dostoevsky and Zola especially. And of course I grew up reading the great English novelists; Eliot and Dickens are two that I consciously emulate. From Japan, I'm partial to the work of Yukio Mishima. And the Canadian Alice Munro is an inspiration.

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