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Maxine Rosaler

Maxine Rosaler
Genre: Fiction

MAXINE ROSALER started writing fiction over 35 years ago and 35 years later her first book of fiction, Queen for a Day, was published. She has earned a living as a freelance writer and journalist and a freelance copyeditor. Short stories and nonfiction pieces have been published in literary quarterlies such as The Southern Review, Glimmer Train, Witness, Fifth Wednesday, Green Mountains Review and The Baltimore Review. In 1992 she was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fiction Fellowship and she has had stories cited in editions of Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays. She is the mother of Benjamin, now 26, and Samantha, 29, and she is married to Phillip Margulies, who is also a fiction writer. She lives in Washington Heights, NY. Queen for a Day was inspired by her life as Benjy’s mother.

For more on this author, visit: https://www.harpercollins.com/thelist/maxine-rosaler/


Biggest literary influencers:
John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, Philip Roth

Last book read:
The Cry of the Wolf by Patricia Highsmith. I am in the process of writing a thriller, so I have been trying to pick up tricks from other writers of thrillers.)

The book that changed your life:
I think it would be going too far to say that any book changed my life, but I would say that The Collected Short Stories of John Cheever have been a tremendous source of inspiration for me, as a writer. I learned a lot about writing short stories from loving John Cheever so much.

Your favorite literary character:
I love Dorothea in Middlemarch. I love the generosity of her spirit and her courage.

Currently working on:
A literary thriller, entitled, tentatively, “Just This”

Words to live by:
I don’t have any!

Advice to new and aspiring authors:
If you feel driven to write, if writing makes you happy, then don’t let anyone discourage you–especially not those rich and famous writers who are always telling young writers not to write. I hate that! Don’t listen to them. Just write! But write just for the love of it. Don’t write with the expectation of achieving success. Success may or not come–and if it does or doesn’t, it won’t necessarily have anything to do with your worth as a writer.

Articles About The Author:


“Maxine Rosaler’s “novel in stories” resembles Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, except rather than surviving an absurd and unjust war, the burden here is one of mothering an autistic child.  Like O’Brien, Rosaler explores the mettle and morality of Mimi Slavitt on the “battlefield of her existence”—as she seeks help for her son, and as her story is set off against other stories of different mothers with handicapped children. The failures of our institutions, especially schools, to confront special needs are one common minefield; and the dream of cures another.  Rosaler continues throughout to plumb both Mimi’s humanity and that of her son Danny . . . .In all, the writing is generously unsentimental, spiritually probing and filled with piercing intimacies.”

– DeWitt Henry, Founding Editor of Ploughshares, author of Sweet Marjoram: Notes and Essays

 “Built from individual stories with quick starts and stops, Queen For a Day falls together like the pieces of a most extraordinary jigsaw puzzle. It’s a book that brings healing through its capacity to knit together the chaotic moments of life lived with and for people on the spectrum.”

– Benjamin Ludwig, author of Ginny Moon

 “Maxine Rosaler’s stories are both hard-edged and comic, both laced with despair and hopeful against all expectation. New York City is the setting, a struggle to prosper in the face of bad choices and deeply ingrained perversity is the theme. Constant, however, is a narrative voice that proves irresistible, and a craftsman’s approach to the construction of these contemporary parables.”

– C. Michael Curtis, Fiction Editor, The Atlantic

“If you’re looking for a heart-warming, inspirational account of saintly parents raising an autistic child, Queen for a Day isn’t the book for you. Instead, what Maxine Rosaler offers us is the gut-heaving, throat-choking, darkly comic truth–about parenthood, marriage, love, rage, and hard-won survival. Here is life as it was actually lived in twentieth-century New York, in all its profane, crazy-making, transcendent glory.”

– Eileen Pollack, author of The Bible of Dirty Jokes

“Maxine Rosaler’s novel in stories is sharply observant and deeply poignant, yet at times so darkly humorous that the reader will laugh out loud. Queen for a Day is unlike anything you’ve read before, and is absolutely unforgettable.”

– Marian Thurm, author of Today is Not Your Day, Editors’ Choice, New York Times Book Review

“Queen for a Day crackles with insight, energy, and New York City wit.  Maxine Rosaler’s novel in stories revolves around an odd sorority of mothers brought together–and sometimes apart–by their autistic children. Rosaler is both compassionate and wonderfully unsentimental in her portrayal of their fear and fury, longing and isolation.  She is also really good at capturing the random bursts of connection so endemic to New York City street life, and her take on the Kafkaesque bureaucracy otherwise known as the Department of Education is hilarious.  I loved this book and recommend it highly, not only to parents dealing with autism, but to anyone who enjoys gritty, funny, heartbreaking, and ultimately affirming stories of modern family life.”

– Eliza Factor, author of Strange Beauty

“These stories speak eloquently to the loneliness and isolation that can be an intrinsic part of raising a child with a disability. With unsentimental candor and edgy humor, Maxine Rosaler describes the surreal situations these mothers encounter, but she also reveals glimpses of the deep love and against-all-odds dreams these women have for their children.”

– Marianne Leone, author of JESSE, a Mother’s Story of Grief, Grace and Everyday Bliss

“Queen for a Day is a constellation of stories forming a vibrant novel about maternal love, its struggles, its ambivalence, and, ultimately, its persistence. Each is from the perspective of a mother in crisis, and each moves us in a profoundly different way. The stories’ shifting points of view create moments of dissonance and also of great empathy. Mothers who otherwise have nothing in common are brought together, often with sudden intimacy, through the challenges of their children. Queen for a Day poignantly evokes a maternal dance between denial and celebration.”

-Hilary Reyl, author of Kids Like Us

“I was both moved and impressed by this novel, and the intelligence and sympathy with which the author presents her afflicted characters.”

– Alison Lurie, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Foreign Affairs and The Language of Houses

“Queen for a Day is a compelling collection that explores the terror and denial parents experience when realizing their child is ‘different’ in linked stories that are tender, unflinchingly honest, and at times chortle-out-loud funny. The book takes us on a journey from Danny’s early years to his teen years, peopled with idiosyncratic characters and events (a doomed Bar Mitzvah party and an apple-picking expedition gone bad) that allow us to see Danny and his loving but star-crossed parents, Mimi and Jake, from a variety of perspectives. Maxine Rosaler deals with a difficult subject in deft and graceful prose that make everything from a trip to the doctor’s office to wheeling a broken grocery cart down a NYC sidewalk feel like an adventure fraught with danger and wonder. I loved this book–read it in two sittings.”

– Garnett Kilberg Cohen, author of Swarm to Glory, a Collection of Short Stories

“Maxine Rosaler lays bare the turmoil of raising and loving a special needs child while navigating fraught adult relationships and nightmarish bureaucracies. There are no saints or queens here, just real, aching women in all their complexity. These artfully linked stories are at once biting and tender.”

– Dawn Raffel, author of The Strange Case of Dr. Couney

“The stories in Maxine Rosaler’s are sharp and wonderfully off-kilter, filled with anguish and dark humor and a quiet, unmistakable pulse of hope. Rosaler’s depiction of heartbreak and its flip side, fierce love, is unsparing and complex, and something to which we all can relate.”

– Ellen Umansky, author of The Fortunate Ones

“Everyone who has experienced the system of disability education, services, and healthcare has a story.  With dark humor, irony, and compassion, Maxine Rosaler’s Queen for a Day recognizes that there are many sides to a story.  There are no heroes and villains here, but ordinary people trying to live on with the pettiness, routines, and fleeting victories of everyday life.  Compelling and sharply written, this collection is a must-read for parents, educators, and service providers, as well as anyone who just loves a good story.”

– Rachel Adams, author of Raising Henry

“Built from individual stories with quick starts and stops, Queen For a Day falls together like the pieces of a most extraordinary jigsaw puzzle. It’s a book that brings healing through its capacity to knit together the chaotic moments of life lived with and for people on the spectrum.”

– Benjamin Ludwig, author of Ginny Moon

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