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Selected Shorts

Meg Wolitzer

It's the beginning of a new era in the storied legacy of Selected Shorts: Meg Wolitzer, the bestselling author of The Interestings and The Female Persuasion, becomes the first permanent host of the public radio program and podcast in over a decade. Wolitzer has long been an avid Selected Shorts listener and has had her own stories interpreted for the series. As host, not only will she be able to celebrate words and language, and of course short stories, but she will also get a chance to explore the stories with the writers and actors on-air, "It’s my complete joy to be involved in these amazing stories and performances. As a novelist and short-story writer myself, I'll help listeners understand context, and craft. Together, we’re going to great places and I'm excited to be a part of Selected Shorts with you."

We can’t wait to share her insight and wit with listeners worldwide each week.

About Meg

​Meg Wolitzer sold her first novel, Sleepwalking, when she was 22 and a senior at Brown. Her mother, writer Hilma Wolitzer, sold her own first novel when she was 44. The family joke was that Meg’s grandmother was hoping to publish her first novel at 88—but alas, that did not happen. Since then, Meg’s many books have included The Female Persuasion, The Interestings, and The Wife, which was made into the acclaimed film starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce. Meg also writes for young readers, and her first picture book, Millions of Maxes, was published in the winter of 2022. She has published short fiction as well, and was guest editor of The Best American Short Stories 2017. Meg has taught widely, and is a faculty member in the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton, where she co-founded and co-directs BookEnds, a one-year non-credit intensive in novel writing. While numbers and in fact any kind of math leave her cold, words and wordplay occupy much of her time and inner life. As a result, when she’s not writing, Meg plays a generous amount of online Scrabble, tries to crack the pangram in the daily New York Times’s Spelling Bee, and solves cryptic crossword puzzles. Decades ago, she and Jesse Green, now the NY Times’ chief theater critic, wrote a weekly puzzle, “Nutcrackers,” for the short-lived NY publication 7 Days. The opportunity to host “Selected Shorts” is thrilling to her, because not only will she be able to celebrate words and language, and of course short stories, but she will also get a chance to explore the stories with the writers and actors on-air, “which,” she says, “is pretty much the opposite of what I do most of the time, alone at my desk.” Meg has been listening to the show for many years, and was excited to hear two of her own stories interpreted by Blythe Danner and Jill Eikenberry. She lives in New York City, not too far from Symphony Space, with her husband, writer Richard Panek, and their 14-year-old Havanese dog Jet. They have two grown sons, which, she says, “is still pretty astonishing. It all does pretty much whirl past, making life less like a novel and more like—fittingly—a short story.”

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Meg Wolitzer

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Me, Meg Wolitzer:

1) I sold my first short story to KIDS Magazine when I was 11. It was a national magazine in which all the writing was done by kids age 15 and under. My story was a satirical piece called “The Contest,” about a girl who enters a cereal box-top contest in order to win a pony named Sparky. She saves up the boxtops for such a long time that even though she wins, she is told she cannot have the pony because he has died of old age.

2) As a child, in lieu of attending Hebrew school, I attended Yiddish school on Sundays, where I learned to read the language from a primer. Instead of Dick and Jane, the characters in the book were named Motel and Gittel.

3) If you ever read Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar, you’ll remember the magazine contest that its protagonist wins as a college student. Sylvia Plath won the real-life version of that college contest too, and so did I. In 1979 I spent the summer before my senior year as a guest editor in the fiction department at Mademoiselle Magazine. We ate coconut shrimp at Windows on the World, were given famous “Mademoiselle” makeovers, were introduced to Estée Lauder, attended a “scent seminar” and a “jeanswear luncheon” as well as a famous textile-industry breakfast show in which the star was Ginger Rogers. Like Plath and her character, most of us stayed at the famous, all-female Barbizon Hotel. I loved it all.

4) I am ambidextrous.

5) I am obsessed with Scrabble, and have various online games going (some with other Scrabble-obsessed writers) at any one time.

6) Along with singer-songwriter Suzzy Roche, formerly of The Roches, I have performed songs we jokily adapted from the texts of classic novels. In fact, in 2013 Suzzy and I taught a class in adaptation together as guest artists at the Princeton Atelier at Princeton University.

7) My mother is a novelist, Hilma Wolitzer. At 91, she recently published a collection of short stories, Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket. It’s fair to say she’s my hero.

8) The first film Nora Ephron directed, This Is My Life, was based on my novel. My husband and I have a cameo in a comedy club scene, sitting behind Dan Aykroyd and Carrie Fisher, looking like blurry holograms of ourselves.

9) I also write for young readers, and my first picture book, Millions of Maxes, was recently published.

10) My favorite novel is Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell. It came out in 1959, and it’s about the life of a Kansas City housewife shortly before World War II. If you’ve already read it, you may well love it too. If you haven’t yet read it, I envy you for still having that experience ahead of you, if you so choose.



Photos of Meg Wolitzer are available for download.