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Rivka Galchen’s latest novel, “American Innovations” allows for some major role switching

Ms. Glachen’s collection of short stories, almost all  narrated by women,  are inspired by famous  short stories  that were written by men.

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Rivka Galchen admits that when she decided on the format of her second novel, a collection of short stories entitled “American Innovations”  she decided that she would take an entirely different slant, based on an observation that  all of her  favorite books were about men and, without exception,  had been narrated from a  masculine viewpoint.

Based on that discovery Ms. Galchen has presented a collection of short stories, which she describes as having almost totally inverts  the “gender equation” in some of the favorite short stories that she has read over the years.

In “American Innovations”  Rivka Galchen present as a series of short stories that have been described by critics as being a combination of witty and delightfully intelligent, based on written  works by David Foster Wallace, Haruki Murakami, Jorge Luis Borges and James Joyce among others. In each of the stories, Rivka has done an excellent job of interpreting how if the story had been written or narrated by a  woman, or both, how the story would have been affected.

According to Rikva, the initial concept came from inner reflections of how the classic  James Thurber  escapist novel “The Secret life of Walter  Mitty “ would turn out  from a a female perspective, which is imaginatively presented in the first short story to appear in “American Innovations”, entitled  “The Lost Order.”

“American Innovations”  is Rikva’s second novel, following not exactly fast in the footsteps of her first “ Atmospheric Disturbances”, published in May 2008.

“Atmospheric Disturbances” was  the subject of  a significant amount of  critical approval, especially for  a debut novel, gathering  favorable reviews by both the  New York Times Book Review and  The New Yorker, as well as going on to reach the final  the Mercantile Library’s 2008 John Sargent, Sr., First Novel Prize,  the Canadian Writers’ Trust’s 2008 Fiction Prize, as well as  the 2008 Governor General’s Award, regarded as being Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes.

Since its publication, “Atmospheric Disturbances” has been translated into more than  languages.

In 2010 Galchen was again picked out by The New Yorker  to figure on their list as one of the top 20 American writers under the age of 40, with her  short story  entitled “The Entire Northern Side Was Covered with Fire” being included  in the “Summer Fiction” issue of the magazine.

As well as being a published author, Rivka also teaches writing at Columbia University,  is a Contributing Editor at Harper’s Magazine, as well as a regular feature writer for  several national magazines, among them The New Yorker,  the New York Times Magazine  and The Believer.


Rivka Galchen  was born in Toronto, Canada, to parents who had emigrated from Israel. Rivka’s father  Tzvi Gal-Chen was a leading professor in the  meteorological field,   spending many years working at the University of Oklahoma, while  her mother was employed by the National Severe Storms Laboratory  in Norman, Oklahoma as a computer programmer.

Ms. Galchen graduated from  the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan as an M.D., later going on to earn  an MFA from Columbia University, where she was a Robert Bingham fellow.



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