Color photograph of the head of a light skinned dark haired woman wearing glasses and smiling broadly at the camera

Dana Spiotta

Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize, a gift of the Drue Heinz Trust/American Academy of Arts and Letters
September 8, 2008–August 7, 2009
Project title
Unnamed Novel
Project description

I don’t work at a university, so I don’t interact much with people from other disciplines. This year at the Academy in Rome will be an exciting opportunity to broaden my interests and writerly obsessions. I am a research-intensive fiction writer; the resources of the Academy will not be lost on me. I will be a full participant in the life of the Academy. Leaving the United States for a time will be great for my writing at this point in my life. I am well into my third novel. I know how to work. I need to keep pushing hard against the familiar and the easy. Every writer needs what James Joyce described as “silence, exile, and cunning.” As a writer with (so far) distinctly American subjects, exile will serve me well, allowing me some distance at which to contemplate the culture that has preoccupied my work. My writing will also benefit from the personal distance the Academy would offer. I will be able to concentrate more deeply on my novel. This year in Rome will give me both community and exile—a unique and wonderful situation for me.