Boris Fishman

About the author


Boris Fishman was born in Minsk, Belarus, and immigrated to the United States in 1988 at nine. His journalism, essays, and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and Book Review, The New Republic, The London Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Travel & Leisure, New York Magazine, and other publications (see Other Writing).

Boris received a degree in Russian literature from Princeton University. Afterward, he was on the editorial staff of The New Yorker, and edited “Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier” (Random House). Boris received his MFA in fiction from New York University, and has received residencies and fellowships from the New York Foundation of the Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, among others.

His first novel, A Replacement Life (HarperCollins), received a front-cover rave in The New York Times Book Review: “Is there room in American fiction for another brilliant young émigré writer? There had better be, because here he is. Boris Fishman’s first novel, “A Replacement Life,” is bold, ambitious and wickedly smart… The only problem with this novel is that its covers are too close together… Undoubtedly, comparisons will be made — to Bellow and the Roths (Henry and Philip)… [and] Bernard Malamud.”

It was also one of The New York Times‘ 100 Notable Books of 2014; the winner of the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal; a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick; a best-of-2014 selection by The San Francisco Chronicle, Shakespeare & Co., and others; a BuzzFeed 20-Under-40 Debut Writers selection; and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, the Sami Rohr Prize, and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award. It had enthusiastic notices from The New Yorker, NPR, NBC, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Publishers Weekly (starred review), MSN, Vogue, and others.

His second novel, Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo (HarperCollins), was also a New York Times‘ Notable Book of the Year (2016), and received raves from NPR, O, the Oprah Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and others, including these words from The New York Times Book Review: “Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo, the second novel by the tender, dolorous, sharp and funny writer Boris Fishman… is peopled by characters so eccentric they feel like family. He has the rare gift of startling us with a foreign culture and simultaneously making it feel like home… Fishman’s appreciation of superstition, New and Old World, is subtle, comic and irresistible… Fishman describes the turmoil of family, parenthood and cultural emotion with urgent, sly detachment. His language has the originality and imagination of someone who comes to English with unexpected thoughts and rhythms in his head, and he is, simply, a joy to read.”

His third book, Savage Feast (HarperCollins), a family memoir told through recipes, was published in 2019, receiving endorsements from Kirkus (starred review), The New York Times (“a tightly-written page-turner”), Amazon (Best Book of the Month + #1 Best Seller in Culinary Biographies and Memoirs), NPR, The Wall Street Journal (“Mr. Fishman’s story — as a refugee, a seeker and an insatiable eater — is inherently compelling. But the book’s brilliance lies in the author’s self-awareness and honest appraisal of his, and his family’s shortcomings”), Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, The Jerusalem Post (“extraordinary”), and Paste, among others, and this great compliment from The Philadelphia Inquirer: “I’ve been reading every food memoir available, including those by Anthony Bourdain, Gabrielle Hamilton, Ruth Reichl, Michael Pollan, Samin Nosrat, Michael Twitty, and now Boris Fishman. His is the most focused and most multilayered of these wonderful books.”

Having taught in Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program from 2015-2020, Boris recently began teaching in the MFA program at The University of Montana in Missoula, Montana, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

PHOTO BY STEPHANIE KALTSAS