Born in New York, NY; children: one daughter. Education: Wesleyan University, B.A.; University of Massachussetts, M.F.A.
Home—81 N St., Salt Lake City, UT 84103.
Author. Worked as a printmaker and pastry chef; formerly with the Institute for Food and Development Policy, San Francisco.
Named to the Missouri Review's "Ten Fiction Writers to Watch" list.
(With Walden Bello) Dragons in Distress: Asia's Miracle Economies in Crisis, Institute for Food and Development Policy (San Francisco, CA), 1990.
What About the Love Part?, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Massachussetts, California, Timbuktu, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to Missouri Review, Northwest Review, Massachussetts Review, Bellingham Review, Willow Review, Other Voices, and Creative City Review.
Stephanie Rosenfeld is an author with an eclectic background. She has been variously a pastry chef, printmaker, novelist, and coauthor of an analysis of Asian economies. In Dragons in Distress: Asia's Miracle Economies in Crisis, her first published work, she and coauthor Walden Bello examine contemporary views of the "emerging" capitalist economies of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Warning against placing too much faith in the economic progress of Asian Newly Industrialized Countries, or NICs, Bello and Rosenfeld point to human rights abuses, authoritarian governments, and poor environmental policy in these nations as signs of instability. According to the authors, "Such is the cunning of history that at the very moment that the economists and technocrats have enshrined the NIC model as the new orthodoxy, that very strategy is running out of steam … the troublesome truth is that the external conditions that made the NIC's export successes possible are fast disappearing, while the long-suppressed costs of high-speed growth are catching up with these economies."
In the Monthly Review, Martin Hart-Landsberg thought Bello and Rosenfeld "convincingly argued" their point. He observed, "Bello and Rosenfeld's discussion of the different strategies pursued by the three states offers valuable material for those who want to learn more about the efficiency and techniques of social regulation of economic activity." James B. Goodno, writing in Technology Review, was more skeptical of the book's recommendations, but valued its non-standard approach: "Though sketchy, their proposals deserve consideration. Unlike schemes that place growth above all other considerations, Bello and Rosenfeld's recommendations give priority to environmental well-being and social justice concerns that need addressing for sustainable development."
Rosenfeld next turned to writing creative works of fiction with her début collection of short stories, What about the Love Part? Centered around the dysfunctional romantic life of one woman, Abby Hillman, Rosenfeld's book explores bad relationships and why some people accept them. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews observed, "Although the jacket copy would have us believe that our protagonist, Abby Hillman, is a smart woman who just chooses the wrong guys, there's little in the collection to prove she's anything but average. But it's Rosenfeld's decision to make her average—as opposed to the more common diamond-in-the-rough type—that lends interest to this intermittently impressive volume." The reviewer observed that the stories were best taken together as a whole, "Together they form a quick, seamless arc."
Rosenfeld followed up her collection of short stories with the novel Massachussetts, California, Timbuktu. Once again writing about a woman who pursues unhealthy relationships, she this time chose as her protagonist the woman's adolescent daughter, who must deal with the upheaval in her life that results from her mother's poor decisions. In an interview with the Boox Review Rosenfeld discussed her development of the novel. "What I think I learned to do," she stated, "was to listen to and observe my characters and to stay consistent with their individual realities—their voices, their actions, their patterns of thinking." Some critics also remarked upon the individual voice of her protagonist Justine Hawley. Writing in Booklist, Elsa Gaztambide predicted that "teen girls in particular will feel for wise-beyond-her-years Justine." A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented favorably on the epistolary structure of the novel, noting that "Rosenfeld's decision to intercut the story with ongoing excerpts from Justine's pioneer diary … is a clever device."
In an interview with Christy Karras of the Salt Lake Tribune Rosenfeld expressed her regret that serious critical attention is seldom payed to popular women's fiction. "I get sick of that whole division between 'chick lit'—stuff that women talk about, worry about, and that to a certain eye doesn't have much to do with the larger world—and 'real' writing," she related. "It took a long time to realize I don't have to spend so much of my energy worrying about pleasing the audience." She has been named to the Missouri Review's list of "Ten Fiction Writers to Watch."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2003, Elsa Gaztambide, review of Massachussetts, California, Timbuktu, p. 1645; October 1, 2003, Barbara Baskin, review of Massachusetts, California, Timbuktu, p. 340.
Far Eastern Review, April 18, 1991, Rigoberto Tiglao, review of Dragons in Distress: Asia's Miracle Economies in Crisis, p. 56.
Journal of Contemporary Asia, December, 1992, Joseph Halevi, review of Dragons in Distress, pp. 546-548.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2002, review of What About the Love Part?, pp. 448-449.
Management Today, May, 1992, Dick Wilson, review of Dragons in Distress, p. 113.
Monthly Review, September, 1991, Martin Hart-Landsberg, review of Dragons in Distress, pp. 57-63.
O, June, 2003, Cathleen Medwick, "I am 16, going on 40: the cracked joy and pain of adolescence," review of Massachusetts, California, Timbuktu, p. 124.
Publishers Weekly, March 18, 2002, review of What About the Love Part?, p. 72; April 28, 2003, review of Massachussetts, California, Timbuktu, p. 49.
Race and Class, October-December, 1992, S.B. Isabirye, review of Dragons in Distress, pp. 105-106.
Salt Lake Tribune, May 11, 2003, interview with the author.
School Library Journal, October, 2003, Kathy Tewell, review of Massachusetts, California, Timbuktu, p. 208.
Technology Review, February-March 1991, review of Dragons in Distress.
Utne Reader, March-April, 1991, Doug Henwood, review of Dragons in Distress, p. 152.
Boox Review,http://www.booxreview.com/ (July 27, 2004), interview with the author.*