Raffel, Dawn 1957-

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RAFFEL, Dawn 1957-


Born September 10, 1957, in Milwaukee, WI; daughter of Mark Joseph Raffel (a furniture salesman) and Francine Leonore (Bern) Goldfarb; married Michael Evers, July 13, 1985; children: Brendan, Sean. Education: Brown University, A.B., 1979.


Home—Hoboken, NJ. Office—O, The Oprah Magazine, 1700 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.


Magazine editor and author. Seventeen, New York, NY, fiction editor, 1981-83; freelance writer, 1983-85; Redbook, New York, NY, associate fiction editor, 1985-86, senior associate fiction editor, 1986-90, fiction editor, 1990-91, books and fiction editor, 1991-97, senior editor, 1997-99, deputy editor, 1999; O, New York, NY, deputy editor, beginning 1999, then executive editor. Teacher at West Virginia University and at writers' conferences.


American Society of Magazine Editors.


Hob Broun prize for fiction, Quarterly, 1991.


In the Year of Long Division (short stories), Knopf (New York, NY), 1995.

Carrying the Body (novel), Scribner (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor to anthologies, including Micro Fictions, The One You Call Sister, I've Always Meant to Tell You: Letters to Our Mothers, and Wild Women; contributor to periodicals, including Iowa Review, New Letters, Los Angeles Times, Quarterly, Epoch, Interview, and Conjunctions.


Long-time magazine editor Dawn Raffel began her fiction career penning short stories, placing many in national magazines and ultimately publishing the critically praised short-fiction collection In the Year of Long Division. Released in 1995, the debut work prompted Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Erika Taylor to call Raffel "a writer of such obvious and extreme talent that even her lesser stories are well worth reading." Seven years later she expanded achieved publishing success with a longer work, the 126-page novel Carrying the Body. Based in New York City, Raffel worked her way up the editorial ranks at Redbook before moving to a top editorial post at O, a periodical created by popular television talk-show host Oprah Winfrey.

In Carrying the Body readers meet Elise, a woman returning with her sick young son James to her family's shabby home where her father and younger sister have been living since Elise's mother's death. Readers quickly learn that it was the mother who served as the family's mortar; since her death Elise's father and sister have become as run-down as the house they inhabit. Elise's sister, resentful of her role as caretaker to her aging father, drowns her anger in gin, but despite her troubled state proves to be the only character capable of positive action.

A Kirkus reviewer, bemoaning Raffel's "sonorous and deliberately overwrought" narration, called the novel "virtually unreadable." Patricia Gulian however, concluded otherwise, noting in her Library Journal review that although Carrying the Body is neither "easy" nor "pleasant" to read, it nonetheless is "worth the disquietude it creates" for the readers. In Booklist Mary Ellen Quinn also favored the work, noting that "there is no denying the power of the language" in Raffel's "cryptic but oddly compelling novel."



Booklist, September 1, 2002, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of Carrying the Body, p. 59.

Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 1994, review of In the Year of Long Division, pp. 1491-1492; July 15, 2002, review of Carrying the Body, p. 988.

Library Journal, September 1, 2002, Patricia Gulian, review of Carrying the Body, p. 215.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 8, 1995, Erika Taylor, review of In the Year of Long Division, p. 6.

O, October, 2002, Cathleen Medwick, review of Carrying the Body, p. 90.

Publishers Weekly, November 28, 1994, review of In the Year of Long Division, p. 43; September 2, 2002, Melissa Mia Hall, interview with Raffel and review of Carrying the Body, p. 51.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, spring, 2003, Gregory Howard, review of Carrying the Body, p. 160.*