Ottessa Moshfegh

Ottessa Charlotte Moshfegh (born May 20, 1981) is an American author and novelist.[1] Her debut novel, Eileen (2015), won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and was a fiction finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.[2]

Ottessa Moshfegh
Moshfegh at the 2015 Texas Book Festival.
Moshfegh at the 2015 Texas Book Festival.
BornOttessa Charlotte Moshfegh
(1981-05-20) May 20, 1981 (age 40)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
  • Novelist
  • writer
Alma mater
  • Fiction
  • essays
Notable worksEileen

Early life and educationEdit

Moshfegh was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1981.[3] Her mother was born in Croatia and her father, who is Jewish,[4] was born in Iran.[5] Her parents were both musicians and taught at the New England Conservatory of Music. As a child, Moshfegh learned to play piano and clarinet.[2]

She attended the Commonwealth School in Boston[6] and received her BA in English from Barnard College in 2002.[7] She completed an MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University in 2011.[7] She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in fiction at Stanford University from 2013-2015.[8][9]


After college, Moshfegh moved to China, where she taught English and worked in a punk bar.[2]

In her mid-twenties, Moshfegh moved to New York City. She worked for Overlook Press, and then as an assistant for Jean Stein. After contracting cat-scratch fever, she left the city and earned an MFA from Brown University.[2]


Fence Books published her novella, McGlue, in 2014. McGlue was the first recipient of the Fence Modern Prize in Prose.[10]

Her novel Eileen was published by Penguin Press in August 2015, and received positive reviews.[11][12] The book was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize.[13] In this book Eileen, the main character and narrator of the story, describes a series of events that occurred years ago, when she was young and living in a Massachusetts town that she refers to only as "X-ville." At the beginning of the novel we find her working as a secretary at a local juvenile prison while living with and caring for her abusive father, a retired police officer suffering from alcoholism and paranoia. As the story continues we learn more and more about a dramatic situation that causes her to leave her life in X-ville.

Homesick for Another World, a collection of short stories, was published in January 2017.[14]

Moshfegh published her second novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, on July 10, 2018, by Penguin Press. The book describes a young art history graduate, living in New York City, over 15 months from mid-June 2000.[15] Recently graduated from college and ambivalently mourning the recent deaths of both her parents, she quits her job as a gallerist[15] and undertakes to sleep for a year with the assistance of sleeping pills and other medications prescribed by a disreputable psychiatrist.

The same year, she penned a piece for Granta in which she describes an experience she had with a much older male writer when she was seventeen years old.[16]

Moshfegh is a frequent contributor to the Paris Review, and she has published six stories in the journal since 2012.[17]

Her third novel, Death in Her Hands, was published by Vintage in August 2020.[18] Moshfegh has described this work, which she wrote for herself, as "a loneliness story".[8]

Personal lifeEdit

Moshfegh is married to the writer Luke Goebel, whom she met during an interview.[19]

Awards and honorsEdit





Short storiesEdit

  • "Medicine", Vice, December 1, 2007
  • "Disgust" (alternately titled "Mr Wu"), The Paris Review, No. 202, Fall 2012
  • "Bettering Myself", The Paris Review, No. 204 Spring 2013
  • "Malibu", Vice, July 3, 2013
  • "The Weirdos", The Paris Review, No. 206, Fall 2013
  • "A Dark and Winding Road", The Paris Review, No. 207, Winter 2013
  • "No Place for Good People", The Paris Review, No. 209, Summer 2014
  • "Slumming", The Paris Review, No. 211, Winter 2014
  • "Nothing Ever Happens Here", Granta, Issue 131, Spring 2015
  • "The Surrogate", Vice, June 5, 2015
  • "Dancing in the Moonlight", The Paris Review, No. 214 Fall 2015
  • "The Beach Boy", The New Yorker, January 4, 2016
  • "The Locked Room", The Baffler, Spring 2016
  • "An Honest Woman", The New Yorker, October 24, 2016
  • "Love Stories", Vice, December 5, 2016
  • "Brom", Granta, Issue 139, 2017
  • "The Pornographers", Vice, March 26, 2017
  • "I Was a Public Schooler", The Paris Review, No. 233, Summer 2020



  1. ^ Novak, Joanna (November 3, 2014). "Ottessa Moshfegh Is the Next Big Thing, and Here Are 7 Reasons Why". Bustle. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Levy, Ariel. "Ottessa Moshfegh's Otherworldly Fiction". The New Yorker. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  3. ^ Moshfegh, Ottessa (February 28, 2016). "Ottessa Moshfegh: I didn't set out to write Eileen as a noir novel". The Guardian (Interview). Interviewed by Kate Kellaway. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  4. ^ Ottessa Moshfegh's Otherworldly Fiction, The New Yorker, July 2018
  5. ^ "Character Finds A Path Out of Her Personal Prison In 'Eileen'". NPR. August 15, 2015. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  6. ^ Sullivan, James (January 24, 2017). "The moral to her stories is... not there". The Boston Globe. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Ottessa Moshfegh | Literary Arts Program". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Christensen, Lauren (April 16, 2020). "Ottessa Moshfegh Is Only Human". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Stegner Fellowship – Complete List of Stegner Fellows " Stanford Creative Writing Program".
  10. ^ "McGlue Otessa Moshfeg | Fence Books". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  11. ^ "Eileen: A Novel". Penguin Press.
  12. ^ King, Lily (August 14, 2015). "'Eileen,' by Ottessa Moshfegh". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  13. ^ Paul Laity, "Ottessa Moshfegh interview: ‘Eileen started out as a joke – also I’m broke, also I want to be famous’", The Guardian, September 16, 2016.
  14. ^ Sarah Shaffi (September 19, 2014). "Two from Moshfegh for Cape". The Bookseller.
  15. ^ a b "My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh – caustic and acute". the Guardian. July 22, 2018. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  16. ^ "Jailbait". Granta Magazine. August 9, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  17. ^ a b Stein, Lorin (October 28, 2014). "Ottessa Moshfegh". BOMB Magazine. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  18. ^ "Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh review – meandering murder mystery". the Guardian. October 9, 2020. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  19. ^ Phillips, Kaitlin (July 19, 2018). "Ottessa Moshfegh Plays to Win". The Cut. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  20. ^ "The Fence Modern Prize in Prose". Past winners. Archived from the original on November 24, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  21. ^ "The Believer Book Award". The Believer. November 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  22. ^ Mark Shanahan (March 16, 2016). "Newton's Ottessa Moshfegh wins 2016 PEN/Hemingway Award". Boston Globe. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  23. ^ Treisman, Deborah (December 28, 2015). "This Week in Fiction: Ottessa Moshfegh on the Repressed Western Consciousness". The New Yorker.

External linksEdit