Rebecca Donner

Rebecca Donner is the author of a novel, Sunset Terrace, and a graphic novel, Burnout. A Yaddo fellow and a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA Writing Program, she has published essays and criticism in the New York Times, Bookforum, and The Believer. She lives in Brooklyn.

   
 

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Full Bio

Rebecca Donner was born in Vancouver but spent her formative years in Los Angeles. She graduated high school when she was sixteen and received a full scholarship to attend the University of California at Berkeley.

After college, she toured the West Coast with her alternative rock band and was accepted into Columbia University MFA Writing Program. Her thesis project, Sunset Terrace, drew on her experience growing up in Section 8 housing and was published shortly after she graduated. Sunset Terrace won acclaim for its unflinching depiction of an impoverished single mother and her children struggling to survive amid the glitter and glamour of Los Angeles.

Her second book was the graphic novel Burnout, a collaboration with the DC Comics artist Inaki Miranda. Her essays and criticism have been published in the New York Times, Bookforum, The Believer, and other publications. A Yaddo fellow and a member of the National Book Critic’s Circle, Rebecca has taught writing at Wesleyan University, Barnard, Columbia University, and The New School.

For several years, she was a lyricist for a cabaret series produced at the internationally-renowned Symphony Space. She plays the cello and continues to perform in rock bands, although her bandmates now are mainly literary types. She recently completed her third novel and lives in Brooklyn.

Sunset Terrace

Sunset Terrace is the story of an impoverished single mother and her daughters struggling to survive amid the glitter and glamour of Los Angeles.

"Donner's writing is nothing short of gorgeous, alive to the intricate hostilities between girls and the tangled alliances among women. The compassion she summons for the desperately sad children in this book is nearly crushing in its intensity. This is a remarkable debut." —Baltimore Sun

"A family puts down roots in a hardscrabble Southern California apartment complex in this colorful, wonderfully realized first novel."   —Publisher's Weekly

"Rebecca Donner has captured with painful accuracy the way that longing and love between girls can get tangled until it becomes an impossible knot. This is a gripping story, told with compassion, humor, and a clarity of vision that marks the debut of a writer to watch."   —Dani Shapiro

"In Sunset Terrace, Rebecca Donner manages to combine the affectionate and the painful, a sharp eye for the minute detail and a firm sense of narrative architeture. From its first sad-funny and skeptical sentence, Sunset Terrace shows a smart and compassionate sensibility at work."   —David Gates

"This is a wonderful novel, exciting in so many ways: exploration of character, evocation of place, and an assured narrative that carries us swiftly and deeply to places in the heart and mind we experience as if for the first time. To find that in any novel is rare; in a first novel, it is truly a gift. With Sunset Terrace Rebecca Donner sets the cornerstone of what promises to be a terrific career."   —Nicholas Christopher

"Sunset Terrace is a moving novel of women and girls, scrappy, independent, by turns afraid and unafraid. The stakes are high on every page where managing loss and survival is as daily as bread. Rebecca Donner has made a wonderful and strong debut."   —Victoria Redel

Burnout

A collaboration with the DC Comics artist Inaki Miranda, is a graphic novel about ecoterrorism and quasi-incest.

"The enormously talented Donner is unafraid of taking risks with Burnout, and it pays off, with a cautionary, edgy and unputdownable story." —Oakland Tribune

"Donner very effectively translates the caged sensation of youth, and the struggles (often misguided) to break free. While the message of Burnout isn't a happy-go-lucky one, it is honest. For that and much more, it's a story that lingers in the mind, like the sharp pain of a burn."   —ComicMix

"Donner crafts a hauntingly evocative story in Burnout."   —Graphic Novel Reporter

Essays Etc.

An essay about rape culture, published in Guernica.

A review of David Means’s novel Hystopia, in Bookforum.

Found Object, a reflection on a boy’s journal I bought at a flea market in New York, in Crony Magazine.

John Freeman, an interview in Bookforum.

Domestic Disturbances, a review published in The New York Times Sunday Book Review about Héctor Tobar’s The Barbarian Nurseries.

The Only Truth That Mattered, a reflection about my father first published in Killing the Buddha and anthologized in Believer, Beware: First-Person Dispatches from the Margins of Faith, ed. Jeff Sharlet and Peter Manseau, published by Beacon Press.

Rebecca Miller, an interview in Bookforum.

A recommendation for No Near Exit: Writers Select Their Favorite Work From Post Road Magazine.

A review of Daphne Beal’s In The Land of No Right Angles, in Bookforum.

A review of a novel by recipient of the National Book Award and the MacArthur Fellowship Andrea Barrett, in Bookforum.

A review of Kate Braverman’s Frantic Transmissions To and From Los Angeles, in Bookforum.

An essay about the novelist John Fante, in Post Road.