About Vanessa Manko

New York, NY

Vanessa Manko (CBA ’19) is the author of The Invention of Exile, which was a finalist for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Award, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, and a Kirkus Reviews’ best books of 2014. Her work has appeared in Granta, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review’s The Daily, NPR’s Selected Shorts and in Dance Magazine, Dance Now, Dance Teacher, Pointe, and Dance Research Journal. Formerly the dance editor of The Brooklyn Rail, she earned her M.F.A. from Hunter College where she was the recipient of a Hertog Fellowship. She earned an M.A. from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where she focused on dance studies and cultural history. Manko trained in ballet at the North Carolina School of the Arts and danced with the Charleston Ballet Theatre. Additionally, she has taught writing at Wesleyan University, New York University, and SUNY Purchase. A former Yaddo Fellow and Edith Wharton Writer-in-Residence at The Mount, Manko lives in Brooklyn.

A Question of Illumination: A Novel

A Question of Illumination is a novel-in-progress inspired by the life and work of Loïe Fuller, the American modern dance pioneer who performed in Paris at the Folies-Bergère in the 1890s. The novel will bring Fuller, her dances, and her artistic friendships to life, not only illustrating how she inspired leading male artists of the time, but also how her work came to bear on the lives of individual, common place women such as Fuller’s ailing mother, a young American ballet dancer abroad, a French woman and host of a popular salon, and a prostitute and imitator at the Folies-Bergère. All the while, Fuller will remain the fulcrum—like her body in her dances—and the different strands of the novel will culminate in a statement about how art, whether we are the creator, spectator, or benefactor, can consume us.

Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan mail@beowulfsheehan.com