Keep on scrolling. Resources for writers on the right; biographia, links to my books & short pieces, interviews & reviews on left.


God told me to run for president. God wants you to read about it here or here and to leave a comment or post it on Facebook.

I'm working on an essay collection about the South. To read my story about a destination bar mitzvah in Selma, click here. To read my piece about a 1965 survey of Selma Jews on integration, click here. To read my take on black-Jewish relations and the 49th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, go here. And here's my piece from the Houston Chronicle online about books to read after you've seen the movie Selma.

I will talk to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois  about “Making the dead dance: how to breathe life into your ancestors,” on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, at 2pm, at Temple Beth-El in Northbrook on Dundee. Here's a description: You’ve found the names, you’ve located the shtetl or city, gone through ship manifests and census records--but all they add up to are names and dates on paper or in a computer file. How do you take the bare bones of someone’s life and turn them into flesh and blood? In this workshop you will find out what strategies have worked for nonfiction writers who write about their ancestors. These writers have stuck to the facts, though they’ve allowed themselves a supposition or two. Feel free to bring information about one particular ancestor, especially photos, as well as your questions. This session will be informal, with plenty of chances to ask questions and time for a few short writing exercises. You’ll leave with ideas for more research and new strategies, and excitement about the possibilities.

In late October 2015 I will be on two panels at Nonfictionow in Flagstaff, Arizona: "You lived through it; do we have to read about it?" with Tom Larson, Elizabeth Kadetsky and Janice Gray; and "What does Theory Have to do With It?" with Sarah  Heston and Julija Ĺ ukys. Apparently I will be taking about Marxism! Yes, it's true what you've heard about Marxist professors. Unfortunately, I'm not a tenured radical. Both panels are at 9 a.m., and I am encouraging people to wear pjs and other sleepwear to the "You lived through it" panel. I hope to have coffee. 

In November 2014 I received a check from Judith Kitchen for my piece that will join 76 others in the anthology she and Dinah Lenney edited, Brief Encounters (W.W. Norton), forthcoming November 2015. The piece was published in Brevity and is part of the nonfiction manuscript mentioned above. Judith was a lyrical writer and a generous supporter of other writers. The day after I received the check, I heard that Judith had died. She had metastatic breast cancer and had thought she would have more time. Besides writing checks, Judith was cleaning closets up to the end. A tribute to Judith is here.

April 16-19, 2015 I was able to take part in the 7th annual Bet Debora conference of mostly-European Jewish feminists, this time in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, England. For the occasion I created Zen Cohens (a term I wish I had invented), a takeoff on Zen Koans. Mine were mostly paradoxes having to do with women and power and will be published in a Bet Debora anthology.

At the AWP conference in Minneapolis April 2015 I was part of a lovely panel, "Detours of Intention: Travel Writing, Privilege, and Perspective," with Tom Montgomery Fate (moderator) and Michele Morano, Tim Bascom, and Miles Harvey. But what I'm most proud of is that, with much help from Rick Robbins, I got AWP book fair participants to donate one toiletry/person from their hotel rooms. About five boxes of toiletries were sent to a local shelter. 

My nonfiction piece, "Jew in the Body," was posted on Ars Medica last year. For my prose poem "Chemo/Lawn" accompanied by photos of (tiny) lawn furniture on my head, see Masque & Spectacle, posted March 1, 2015.

My story "Brunch" from the New Yorker was reprinted January 2015 in Life Is Short, Art is Shorter, ed. David Shields and Elizabeth Cooperman.

Listen to my most recent book

Listen to my most recent book
Click image to order from University Press Audiobooks, read by Jennnifer Teague

From the University of Iowa Press...A TIME OUT CHICAGO TOP TEN BOOK*A Newcity Chicago top 5

From the University of Iowa Press...A TIME OUT CHICAGO TOP TEN BOOK*A Newcity Chicago top 5
Click on the Cancer Bitch above for more info.

Holocaust Girls: History, Memory & Other Obsessions (essays)

Holocaust Girls: History, Memory & Other Obsessions (essays)
Click on the cover for more info.

The Sweetheart is In (stories)

The Sweetheart is In (stories)
Click on the cover for more info.

No-frills bio

Sandi is the author of two prose collections, The Sweetheart Is In, and Holocaust Girls: History, Memory, & Other Obsessions, and the nonfiction chronicle The Adventures of Cancer Bitch,
based on her blog. She is working on another nonfiction book, Moments in Selma & Other Glimpses of the South (with more Jews than you would think), to be published in 2015 by the University of Georgia Press.
She grew up in Houston and lives in Chicago. Her M.F.A. is in fiction from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop; her B.S. is in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism. She was a feature writer for the Miami Herald and has published prose and poetry in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Tikkun, New England Review, Michigan Quarterly Review and many other places. Her anthologized work is in Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction (Norton) and Creating Nonfiction: A Guide and Anthology (Bedford/ St. Martin's) . Her nonfiction has appeared in Lilith, River Teeth, Fourth Genre, the Pinch, Crab Orchard Review and Colorado Review, Common Review and The Progressive. Her fiction (excerpts from her novel manuscript, In the House of the World) can be found in Prairie Schooner, Seattle Review and a few other literary magazines. She was a blogger for The Huffington Post and from 2004 to 2014 was co-director and director of Northwestern's M.A./M.F.A. in Creative Writing program. She is now an instructor and head of teaching internships in the program. She has been the literary editor of TriQuarterly, and the creative nonfiction editor of Another Chicago Magazine. She's received a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the National Endowment for the Humanities. For the spring semester 2013 she was the Coal Royalty Chair at the University of Alabama, teaching in the MFA program. She was the graduate faculty recipient of the 2006-2007 Distinguished Teaching Award, presented by what is now known as Northwestern University School of Professional Studies.
E-mail her at SLwisenberg (at) sbcglobal.net.

Some-frills bio

S.L. Wisenberg is a a third-generation native Texan on her mother's side. On her father's side she's a second generation native Southerner. Her great-grandmother and all her siblings took the Pusvatyn- Lithuania-to-Selma-Alabama express before and after the turn of the 20th century.
Sandi was a substitute portrait artist at an amusement park, Astroworld, which has since been destroyed. (She was nowhere near it at the time.) Despite the worst grades of her life senior year in college, she was accepted into the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. Nobody was talking about "creative nonfiction" back in those days. She is convinced she was accepted because she submitted a short story written in the second person, and this was before Jay McInerney used it in Bright Lights, Big City. She studied fiction, worked for newspapers, wrote fiction, did journalism, and so on and so forth. She has also written book reviews and poetry. She spent three wonderful summers teaching journalism cherubs at Northwestern. She spent four other wonderful summers getting educated by Uncle Sam in the National Endowment for the Humanities' summer seminars. She's taught writing at Northwestern, DePaul, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Ragdale, Roosevelt and University of Chicago Graham School creative writing certificate program. To celebrate the end of chemo, she went to Philadelphia for a weekend mosaic class with Isaiah Zagar.

Reviews of The Adventures of Cancer Bitch:

"The Adventures of Cancer Bitch is funny, touching, sad, uplifting and informative - all at the same time."
--Chicago Tribune, 10/15/10

"Best book for someone who likes the idea of the Oprah Book Club but thinks they're too cool"--Time Out Chicago, 12/31/09

"... smart, self-deprecating sense of humor..." --MORE magazine, "Tackling Breast Cancer with Humor Books"

“witty and relentless, surprising and honest" –Audrey Niffenegger, author, The Time Traveler’s Wife

"S.L. Wisenberg’s The Adventures of Cancer Bitch (2009) is among the most Jewishly informed of the recent memoirs. It is also among the most poetic.”--Jewish Woman magazine, Winter 2010

“deeply personal, often darkly funny"–Kirkus Reviews

“far more selfless than most illness memoirs. Its eyes rove outward more than almost anything else I’ve read in the genre….The book is funny, damned funny.”--Bookslut.com

"Wisenberg brings her serious writing chops to bear in unflinching observations on breast cancer, cancer research, and teaching." --Library Journal

"(An) incredible book.... Wisenberg is acerbic, unsettling, truthful, and often hilarious." --Rain Taxi, Summer 2009

"Her ego shows, but so does her vulnerability."--Chicago Jewish Star

"I fell in love with the Bitch, her scalpel-sharp wit, and searing take on the breast cancer industry, where multinational corporations continue to join the breast cancer activism movement ('hop on the Pink bandwagon'). I loved her even more when, after she lost her hair to chemo, she decorated her head with henna designs and the slogan U.S. Out of Iraq."--Brevity

"[H]er book about her journey through the cancer experience is a must-read for anyone you think is tough enough to take it." --Herizons (Canada)

“...Sandi uses acerbic self-reflection to search for higher truth (both spiritual and medical).”--Chicago JUF News, April 2009

“…like the best of the savage memoirs, it’s doused in hope. --Newcity Chicago

“Think David Sedaris meets Marcel Proust, only Wisenberg is fully a woman.” –UC San Francisco Breast Care Center newsletter

"I found myself laughing at the author's antics while dealing with the seriousness of her condition, and I found myself sobbing at points where her depression and darkness haunts her recovery through chemotherapy."--FeministReview.com

"[The title] conveys her feistiness, sardonic sense of humor, fighter attitude, and willingness to speak the truth as she sees it."--Jewish Book World

Read about Cancer Bitch and much more in Mary DeShazer's Mammographies: The Cultural Discourses of Breast Cancer Narratives.

Places where I've read my work, led a class, and the like (selected)

  • AWP conference panels, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2013
  • Antioch College & Antioch University Midwest, 2012, 2014
  • Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MI 2009
  • Art & Medicine conference, University of Iowa, 2008 (keynote), 2009 (workshop leader)
  • Brown University, 2013
  • Center for the Writing Arts, Northwestern University, 2002, 2009, 2013
  • Columbia College Creative Nonfiction Week, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010
  • Dallas Museum of Art, Arts & Letters Live, 1994, 2002
  • Drew University, 2003
  • Gilda’s Club Chicago, 2009
  • Gilda’s Club Delaware Valley, Warminster, PA, 2009
  • Grand Valley State University, MI, 2009
  • Jewish Book & Culture Fair, Milwaukee, 2001
  • Jewish Book Fair, Houston, 1994, 2001, 2002, 2009
  • Lafayette College, Easton, PA, Close Writer in Residence, 2004
  • Lake Forest (IL) College, 2010
  • Loyola University Chicago, 2001, 2009, 2011
  • MLA convention panels, 2002, 2008, 2014
  • Miami Book Fair International, 2002, 2009
  • Minnesota State University-Mankato, Eddice B. Barber Visiting Writer Program, 2005
  • Oakton Community College, 2010
  • Printers Row Book Fair, Chicago, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011
  • Purdue University, Jewish Studies Lecture Series, 2001, 2004; Cancer Culture & Community program, 2007
  • Ripon (WI) College, 2007
  • Texas A & M University, 2001, 2006
  • University of Alabama, Bankhead reading series, 2009
  • University of Iowa NonfictioNow conference, 2005, 2007, 2010
  • Valparaiso University, 2011

SLW--not in Paree

SLW--not in Paree
Click to go to Cancer Bitch blog.