Rachel Cantor

Rachel Cantor | Fiction writer

Rachel is the author of three novels: A Highly Unlikely Scenario (Melville House, 2014), Good on Paper (Melville House, 2016), and Half-Life of a Stolen Sister (Soho Press, 2023). Her short stories have appeared in the Paris Review, One Story, Ninth Letter, Kenyon ReviewNew England Review, and elsewhere. They have been anthologized, nominated for three Pushcart Prizes, and short-listed by Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Awards, and Best of the Workshops. Her essays about fiction have been published by NPR, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, and others.

A sought-after speaker, Rachel frequently presents at bookstores, libraries, and literary festivals, and she has attended more than three dozen artists’ residencies, including in Belgium, France, Germany, Scotland, and Spain. She received her MA in fiction from the Writing Seminars of the Johns Hopkins University, an MA in international development from the SIT Graduate Institute, and a BA in philosophy from Yale University. Based in Brooklyn, Rachel freelances for international nonprofits that improve health in low-income countries. She is drafting a speculative-fiction series set in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.


LABA project description  

As a LABA fellow, I will draft the fourth book in a series of speculative novels set in the Lower East Side. This book will bring together the “New World” of a future abandoned Manhattan with the Old World of Germany’s medieval Jewish Pietist movement. Dulcie of Worms (1163-1196), wife of Rabbi Eleazar of Worms (c. 1160-c. 1230), a leading figure of the Hasidei Ashkenaz, travels in time to enlist Juno’s help saving a Lower East Side-based “Lamedvavnik” (one of the righteous persons whose just actions, according to Jewish tradition, sustain the world). 

What only comes out at night? 

At night, what is clear and rational breaks open, making space for what cannot be explained, or even tolerated, during the day: in the series I’m working on, these include a bottomless abyss, nightmares become real, and the darkness of human souls. 

What only comes out at night? Night makes space for what cannot be explained, or even tolerated, during the day