New York, New York
56 at time of award
Published July 1, 1987

About Walter's Work

Walter Abish is an independent writer known for the social, philosophical, and linguistic concerns of his literary creations. 

His most celebrated novel, How German Is It? (1980), is an inquiry into contemporary German identity.  The novel is marked by its cerebral narrative style, lucid prose, and controlled irony.  Abish’s other works include collections of short fiction, Minds Meet (1975), In the Future Perfect (1977), and a collection of experimental pieces, 99: The New Meaning (1990), a book of poetry, Duel Site (1970), and the novels, Alphabetical Africa (1974), which explores the necessity of understanding in communication, and Eclipse Fever (1993), set mostly in Mexico.  His short stories have appeared in the literary journals Confrontation, The Element, Extensions, and Statements: New Fiction.


In 2004, Abish published his first work of non-fiction, a record of his memoirs, Double Vision: A Self Portrait.  In it, he sketches his life as a boy in Austria, his Jewish family and their escape from Nazi expansion, his adult travels in China and Israel, and reflects on his lifelong relationship with Germany.

Abish has taught and lectured at Yale, Brown, and Columbia Universities.  He was visiting professor at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (1987, 1993-4) and has been a contributing editor of Conjunctions since 1981.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

Select News Coverage of Walter Abish
April 8, 2004
"Up Close and Personal?"
Walter Abish , 1987 MacArthur Fellow
February 16, 2004
"Sentimental Re-Education"
The New Yorker
Walter Abish , 1987 MacArthur Fellow
More Fellows

View All 1987 Fellows

Stay Informed
Sign up for periodic news updates and event invitations.
Connect with us on social media or view all of our social media content in one place.

The privacy of your data is important to us. We've updated our privacy policies in response to General Data Protection Regulation.