Rosellen Brown

Rosellen Brown is a Chicago-based novelist and short story writer.

Selected Works:

Some Deaths in the Delta and Other Poems, Civil Wars, Before and After


Her stories have appeared in O. Henry Prize Stories and Best American Short Stories, 1984. Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize (for Civil Wars)

Visit Author Website

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

Play: Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Book? Impossible to choose! Maybe Studs Terkel’s Division Street, not yet outdated, to show how a democratic society can function by enacting endless curiosity and silencing no one.

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, probably, who did not get past eighth grade but read the A.A. Milne books to me, and Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poetry. My own reading was helter-skelter and little of it was great literature—I’d be embarrassed to come up with any names—but I took home from the library as many books as I was allowed to check out at one time (ten, I think) in my bike basket and finished them as fast as I could. And in the earliest grades, our school librarian had us “review and recommend” books to each other every week, which I found thrilling.

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?

The Russians: Chekhov (naturally), Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Others: Kafka. Alice Munro. And as a writer, possibly one of the most important books I read at exactly the right time was Elizabeth Bowen’s The Death of the Heart, to teach me how to deal quietly, in beautiful prose, with emotionally intricate, even passionate drama.

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