Literary Lion: 5 Questions with Nonfiction Writer Lis Harris

Posted By on April 2, 2015

Associate Professor Lis Harris was a staff writer at The New Yorker from 1970 to 1995. In addition to innumerable articles, reviews and commentaries, she is the author of Holy Days: The World of a Hasidic Family, Rules of Engagement: Four American Marriages and Tilting at Mills: Green Dreams, Dirty Dealings and the Corporate Squeeze. In 2014, Columbias Rare Book and Manuscript Library acquired her papers.

In one way my teaching life and my writing life are utterly intertwined, in another way they are utterly separate. I continually learn astonishing things from my students and their concerns, which remain in an ongoing way in my consciousness. In another way, the place in my mind I enter when I'm working on my own writing is pretty much separate from teaching, studentsfrom everything else in my life.

I don't know a single writer who isn't an avid reader. Most writers, when they were children, were big readers and the imaginative world of books is necessary sustenance for not just the craft, but the larger underpinnings of writing.

I am a nonfiction writer. I read a great deal of fiction but my sentences coil better around the matrix of reality.

Living and working in New York City is a great boon, as is the wonderful group of writers who are my colleagues. Literary cacophony and competition are non-factors when the precious moments for writing arrive. The only din I hear is the sound of my own cacophonous brain.

I am working on a book about three generations of a Palestinian family and three generations of an Israeli family.

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Literary Lion: 5 Questions with Nonfiction Writer Lis Harris

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