Deborah Eisenberg Biography

Deborah Eisenberg is an author, actress, and educator from America. Check out this biography to know about her birthday, childhood, family life, achievements, and fun facts about her.

Quick Facts

Birthday: November 20, 1945

Nationality: American

Famous: Actresses Short Story Writers

Age: 74 Years, 74 Year Old Females

Sun Sign: Scorpio

Born Country: United States

Born in: Winnetka, Illinois, United States

Famous as: Writer

Subscribe to Riddle Puddle


Spouse/Ex-: Wallace Shawn

U.S. State: Illinois

More Facts

education: The New School Welcome Center (1969), Marlboro College

Continue Reading Below

Subscribe to Riddle Puddle

Deborah Eisenberg is an author, actress, and educator from America. She teaches writing at Columbia University. An Illinois native, Eisenberg hails from a Jewish family. In the late 1960s, she relocated to New York City. In 1973, she served as an editorial assistant at ‘The New York Review of Books.’ She was a professor at the University of Virginia between 1994 and 2011 before she began her tenure at Columbia. As a writer, she has published five collections of short stories and a play. She has also been a regular contributor to ‘The New York Review of Books,’ ‘The New Yorker,’ and ‘The Yale Review.’ Throughout her career, Eisenberg has received several accolades, including a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and six O. Henry Awards. In April 2015, she garnered controversy after criticizing PEN International’s decision to give its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award to ‘Charlie Hebdo,’ the French satirical weekly magazine.

Recommended Lists:

Recommended Lists:

  • Deborah Eisenberg has been a regular contributor to magazines like ‘The New York Review of Books,’ ‘The New Yorker,’ and ‘The Yale Review.’ In 1973, she was appointed an editorial assistant at ‘The New York Review of Books.’ In 1994, she became a professor of writing at the University of Virginia and taught there for 17 years. She began her tenure at Columbia University's MFA writing program in 2011.
  • Eisenberg has published five collections of short stories to date: ‘Transactions in a Foreign Currency’ (1986), ‘Under the 82nd Airborne’ (1992), ‘All Around Atlantis’ (1997), ‘Twilight of the Superheroes’ (2006), and ‘Your Duck Is My Duck’ (2018). The first two collections were put out together under the title ‘The Work (So Far) of Deborah Eisenberg’ in 1997. In 2010, the first four collections were republished under the title ‘The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg’. Her first and only play, ‘Pastorale’, premiered at Second Stage in New York City in 1982.
  • In 1987, she received a Whiting Award as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship. She was also the recipient of the O. Henry Award in 1986, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2006, and 2013. In 2000, she won the Rea Award for the Short Story, an accolade that recognizes a significant contribution to the short story form. Eisenberg was chosen to be included in the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2007. In 2009, she was granted a MacArthur Fellowship. She received the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for ‘The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg’ in 2011 and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story in May 2015.
  • Eisenberg made her acting debut in the 1983 telefilm ‘Saigon: Year of the Cat.’ Directed by Stephen Frears, the television drama revolves around two westerners in Vietnam who become acquainted shortly before the fall of Saigon. Working alongside the likes of Judi Dench, Chic Murray, and Yim Hoontrakul, Eisenberg portrayed the role of Debbie. In 2004, she made her cinematic debut in Tom Cairns’ comedy-drama film ‘Marie and Bruce’, which was the big-screen adaptation of a play by Wallace Shawn, her real-life partner. In the film, Eisenberg played a supporting character named Ilsa. In 2014, she shared screen space with Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, and Adam Driver in writer-director-producer Noah Baumbach’s comedy-drama mystery movie ‘While We're Young’.
You May Like
Continue Reading Below
Controversies & Scandals
  • Between April and May 2015, several letters were exchanged between Eisenberg and American PEN’s Executive Director Suzanne Nossel on PEN’s decision to honour ‘Charlie Hebdo’ with its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award. She was critical of the choice, calling it “an opportunistic exploitation of the horrible murders in Paris to justify and glorify offensive material expressing anti-Islamic and nationalistic sentiments already widely shared in the western world.” However, she accumulated significant criticism for her opinion. Writers Michael Moynihan, Ophelia Benson, and Katha Pollitt disagreed with her on drawing comparisons between ‘Charlie Hebdo’ and the Nazi publication ‘Der Stürmer.’ Jacob Siegel remarked that she had put "dead cartoonists on trial”.
Family & Personal Life
  • Born on November 20, 1945, in Winnetka, Illinois, USA, Deborah Eisenberg was a daughter of Jewish parents. The children of immigrants, Eisenberg’s parents, according to her, “ambitiously sought to educate themselves well, to lead an assimilated, middle-class life”. She was brought up in suburban Chicago, Illinois. Her father was a paediatrician while her mother was a homemaker. By her own admission, she was a difficult child and often argued with her mother. Because of this, she was sent to a boarding school. She attended Marlboro College in Vermont but later dropped out to move to New York City in the late 1960s with a young man with whom she was in a relationship. Eisenberg eventually completed her education at The New School, a private research university in New York City.
  • After obtaining her college degree, she waited tables for a while. During this period, she met actor-writer Wallace Shawn. According to Eisenberg, while she thought he was the strangest person she had ever met, he believed her to be a drug-crazed Satanist. The couple has been together since then. They never exchanged wedding vows nor do they have any children. Eisenberg presently resides in the Chelsea neighbourhood of New York City.

Follow Deborah Eisenberg On:


How To Cite

Article Title
- Deborah Eisenberg Biography
- Editors,
Last Updated
- October 21, 2019
Deborah Eisenberg

People Also Viewed

Jennifer Lopez
Scarlett Johansson
Brie Larson
Jennifer Aniston

George R. R. Martin
Lisa Bonet
Demi Lovato
Ariana Grande