Wendy Lesser (CBA ’16), the founding and current editor of The Threepenny Review, is the author of one novel and nine nonfiction books, most recently Why I read: The Serious Pleasure of Books. She has received awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy in Berlin, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Dedalus Foundation, and many other institutions; she is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences as well as of the New York Institute for the Humanities. Her journalistic writing about literature, dance, film, and music has appeared in a number of periodicals in America and abroad. Her next book, due out in 2017, will be about the architect Louis Kahn; the one after that will be a brief biography of Jerome Robbins.
At the Center, Lesser worked on a brief biography of Jerome Robbins, commissioned by the Jewish Lives series at Yale. She structured the book around Robbins’s major dances from both ballet and Broadway—with chapter titles like Fancy Free, Age of Anxiety, The King and I, The Cage, Afternoon of a Faun, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, and so on—Lesser hoped to investigate a number of issues in Robbins’s life, including his feelings about his own Jewishness, his relationship to Balanchine, his testimony before House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), his bisexuality, and so forth. Above all, she planned to stress the uniqueness of his choreographic achievement.