A Changed Man

 

Francine Prose’s novel A Changed Man boldly portrays the psychological roots of social conflict in the character of Vincent Nolan, a young American neo-Nazi who takes a great leap of faith and attempts to transform his own life for the better.

After some years of drifting unhappily through the lower depths of American society, he turns himself over to a human rights organization called World Brotherhood Watch and clashes both directly and in subtle ways with his own upbringing and immediate family ties.

As he tries to integrate himself into another sort of social movement larger than himself, he confronts Holocaust survivors and survivors of broken marriages and his own miseries, all of this ultimately landing him a place in the forefront of the fast-moving but addled worlds of American philanthropy and American media where he must make life-breaking and life-healing decisions.

Prose’s portrayal of Nolan stands at the center of a story that treats questions of historic global conflict, as Meyer Maslow, head of World Brotherhood Watch, would put it, “one heart at a time...” Heart, for Francine Prose, doesn’t suggest sentimentality. She portrays Nolan’s heart, as William Faulkner put it in his Nobel Prize address, “in conflict with itself.”

In this engaging, sometimes tart, and always brilliantly conducted novel about the wars that rage within everyday human experience, we come to understand that all peace-making and conflict resolution is local.

—Alan Cheuse, 2006 finalist judge


2006 Fiction Winner

Photo of Francine Prose

Francine Prose
A Changed Man

Francine Prose grew up in Brooklyn and attended Radcliffe College, where she majored in English Literature and from which she graduated in 1968. She briefly attended graduate school in Medieval English literature, then left Harvard to live for a year in India, where she began to write her first novel, Judah the Pious. Upon returning home, she sent her novel to a former writing teacher who in turn forwarded it to the legendary editor Harry Ford, then at Atheneum. He bought the book immediately, and it was published when she was 26.

Since then, Prose has written 13 novels, among them Bigfoot Dreams, Primitive People, Household Saints, which was made into a 1993 film directed by Nancy Savoca and starring Lili Taylor, Tracey Ullman and Vincent D’Onofrio, Blue Angel, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and most recently A Changed Man. Her short story collections include Women and Children First and The Peaceable Kingdom; she has also published three books of translation and a collection of novellas, Guided Tours of Hell. She has written five books for children. Her most recent book was The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women and the Artists They Inspired.

Her stories, reviews, cultural criticism and essays have appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Art News, Elle, The Paris Review, and Tin House; she has written frequently on art for The Wall Street Journal. She is a contributing editor at Harpers Magazine, for which she has written such controversial essays as “Scent of a Woman’s Ink” and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Can’t Read.”

Prose is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA grants, two New York State Council on Arts grants, a PEN Translation Prize, and two Jewish Book Council Prizes. In 1989, she traveled throughout the former Yugoslavia on a Fulbright Creative Writing Fellowship. She has taught at Harvard, the University of Arizona, the University of Utah, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the Sewanee and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences. She is on the faculty of the New School MFA Program, a board member of PEN, a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities, and has been a Visiting Writer at the American Academy in Rome. She was one of the first recipients of a Director’s Fellowship at the New York Public Library’s Center for Scholars and Writers.

Francine Prose, the mother of two grown sons, lives in New York City with her husband, the painter and illustrator, Howard Michels.


 
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