Furst, Joshua 1971–
Furst, Joshua 1971–
Home— New York, NY.
Writer and playwright. Pratt Institute, New York, NY, instructor. Fellow at the MacDowell Colony and ArtOmi/Ledig House.
Nelson Algren Award,Chicago Tribune,1997; James Michener-Paul Engle fellowship, James Michener Foundation/Copernicus Society of America, 2001-02.
Short People(stories), Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.
The Sabotage Café(novel), Knopf (New York, NY), 2007.
Also author of plays, including Whimper, Myn, and The Ellipse and Other Shapes.
Also author of the blog joshuafurst.wordpress.
Joshua Furst is a writer and playwright. Although born in Boulder, Colorado, Furst moved around frequently due to his father's government job, living in Washington, DC, for five years, Resindale, Wisconsin, for ten years, then to New York, New, York, at the age of sixteen. After graduating from an inner-city high school, Furst attended New York University and earned a B.F.A. in dramatic writing in 1993. From that time until 1999 he worked in New York's alternative theater scene. He also wrote three plays:Whimper, Myn, and The Ellipse and Other Shapes. While working in New York, he helped to run and organize the 1995 Faust Festival at Nada Theatre and produce the 1998 New York Regional Alternative Theatre conference. In the late 1990s, Furst was accepted into the Iowa Writers' Workshop and received his M.F.A. from the program in 2001.
Two years later, Furst had published his first book. Short People is a collection of ten short stories about children and the loss of innocence. The stories range from a suicidal teen abandoned by her mother's pursuit of stardom to a prenatal-ward nurse's acts of pity and sacrifice for those born with severe difficulties. Reviews for Short People were mostly positive. Jacquelyn Ardam, writing in the Harvard Review, observed that "what emerges from this collection is a sense of overwhelming compassion. Furst cares deeply about his characters and nudges them forward into the world with a firm but gentle hand." Patrick Sullivan felt similarly in a Library Journal review, reiterating that "most noteworthy about this collection is Furst's passionate and inspiring sympathy for these children," while describing the stories as "gritty, uncompromising, [and] powerful." In a Booklist review, Gillian Engberg called the collection "bleak, unflinching, and dramatically told." Engberg added that "these stories about human cruelties, both profound and commonplace, ask urgent questions about how best to protect the soul." A contributor to Publishers Weekly wrote that "Furst is at his best when he abandons his prosy experimentation with voice and perspective and tunnels directly into the unpretty minds of his young protagonists." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews concluded that the collection is "a thoroughly original take on the experience of being a kid, and wishing the whole baffling business of growing and changing would just go away."
Furst's debut novel,The Sabotage Café was published in 2007. The abandoned building of the book's title is where Cheryl hides out after having run away from her mothe,r Julia, in Minneapolis's 1980s punk scene. Cheryl realizes that no matter how far she goes or what she does, she feels as if Julia is constantly there watching her. Julia, as a youth, was in the same position as Cheryl. Reviews for The Sabotage Café were mixed. Richard von Busack, writing on the Metroactive Web site, thought that Furst "puts himself into the mind of his two heroines so well, you wonder if he has some sort of psychic television." New York Times Book Review contributor Field Maloney noted that "Furst is an impressively sharp, compassionate and morally scrupulous anatomist of human relationships." Maloney did mention, however, that "Furst's dutiful rendition of this punk world never lets its anarchic music really sing, or scream. A book about loss of innocence requires more seduction." In a Library Journal review, David A. Berona found the novel "skillfully and ingeniously written." Berona added that the novel "presents the devastating effect of a mother's emotional instability on her child."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Book Review, May 1, 2004, Rob Johnson, "Furst Collection," p. 1.
Booklist, June 1, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of Short People, p. 1742; May 15, 2007, Allison Block, review of The Sabotage Café, p. 21.
Books, June 2, 2007, Kristin Kloberdanz, review of The Sabotage Café, p. 7; September 1, 2007, Sharon Pomerantz, review of The Sabotage Café, p. 10.
Harvard Review, December, 2004, Jacquelyn Ardam, review of Short People, p. 178.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2003, review of Short People, p. 556; July 1, 2007, review of The Sabotage Café.
Library Journal, June 15, 2003, Patrick Sullivan, review of Short People, p. 103; June 1, 2007, David A. Berona, review of The Sabotage Café, p. 108.
New York Times Book Review, October 21, 2007, Field Maloney, review of The Sabotage Café.
Publishers Weekly, June 2, 2003, review of Short People, p. 35; May 7, 2007, review of The Sabotage Café, p. 39.
Tribune Books(Chicago, IL), July 13, 2003, review of Short People, p. 3.
Identity Theory,http://www.identitytheory.com/ (September 8, 2003), Robert Birnbaum, author interview.
Joshua Furst MySpace Profile,http://www.myspace.com/joshuafurst (November 23, 2007), author profile.
Metroactive,http://www.metroactive.com/ (October 31, 2007), Richard von Busack, review of The Sabotage Café.