Lauren Belfer was born in Rochester, New York, and raised in Buffalo. She decided to become a writer when she was six years old. She spent her early years crayoning short stories about heroic pets. By high school, she was writing poetry, and her extraordinary English teachers urged her to send her poems to literary magazines. She collected rejection letters from all the best places. Sometimes the rejection letters included a handwritten “thank you” at the end, which she interpreted as a sign of great encouragement. Her first published short story was rejected forty-two times before it found an editor who loved it. Her second published story was rejected only twenty-seven times. From this she learned never to give up.
Her debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller, as well as a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. City of Light was a bestseller in Great Britain and has been translated into six languages. Her second novel, A Fierce Radiance, was named a Washington Post Best Novel of 2010 and an NPR Best Mystery of 2010. Her third novel, And After the Fire, received a 2016 National Jewish Book Award. And her fourth novel, Ashton Hall, will be published on June 7, 2022.
Belfer’s fiction has also been published in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and Henfield Prize Stories. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post Book World, the Christian Science Monitor, and as well as the anthologies Greenwich Village Stories: A Collection of Memories and Right Here, Right Now: the Buffalo Anthology.
Lauren attended Swarthmore College, where she majored in Medieval Studies and Art History. After graduation, she worked as a file clerk at an art gallery, a paralegal at a law firm, an assistant photo editor at a newspaper, a fact checker at magazines, and as a researcher and associate producer on documentary films. She has an M.F.A. from Columbia University, and she lives in the historic Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.
Lauren has done speaking engagements around the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. She’s spoken at libraries, universities, museums, community centers, and book clubs, in front of audiences ranging from several hundred in an auditorium to intimate gatherings of ten or twelve in a living room. She always hopes that participants will leave her events feeling that the time was well spent and they’ve learned something new about family, history, and how books can bring us together.