Lisa Chen


Lisa Chen is working on an ambitious hybrid nonfiction narrative that combines memoir with cultural criticism and biography. With keen intelligence, emotional empathy, and wry humor she examines the themes of time and obsolescence, loneliness and kinship, freedom and control through interweaving the life and work of the provocative New York City downtown performance artist Tehching Hsieh with an account of the life and physical and mental decline of her Alabama-born stepfather and her own struggle with “projects.”


Her nominator writes, “Lisa explores time and endurance, and, ultimately, the question of ‘How do we measure a life? By what means and what measure?’” Ms. Chen received her B.A. from UC Berkeley and her M.F.A. from The University of Iowa. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Brick, Ninth Letter, Guernica, StoryQuarterly, The Common, The Threepenny Review, and other publications. Her collection of poems, Mouth, was published by Kaya Press in 2007.


She has held fellowships and residencies at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Program, the Center for Fiction, and Blue Mountain Center. She will be a fellow at the Saltonstall Arts Colony this fall. Her Writer’s Award will allow her to reduce her freelance work as a writer and editor and “give her the momentum and courage to finish this work.” Born in Taipei, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.