Dr. Alex Shakar

Illinois, United States

Member Since: 08/22/2012

In Alex Shakar’s latest novel, Luminarium (Soho), Fred Brounian, a thirtysomething game designer, signs up for a  scientific study in which “peak” experiences typically associated with spirituality are given him via an electromagnetic helmet, falls for his experimenter, and starts receiving mysterious emails and other messages from his comatose twin brother.  Called “an intricately structured, imaginative, epistemological, and wildly eventful tale of illusion and longing” by the Chicago Tribune, and “a strikingly metaphysical novel that never dematerializes into misty clichés” by the Washington Post, Luminarium was the winner of the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Fiction.  It was also named an Editor’s Choice by The New York Times, a Notable Book of the year by The Washington Post, and a best book of the year by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, the Austin Chronicle, and the Kansas City Star.    


In his first novel The Savage Girl (HarperCollins), down and out artist Ursula van Urden moves to the American volcano metropolis of Middle City and learns the arcane secrets of trendspotting as she cares for her younger sister Ivy, a fashion model turned schizophrenic. Both a love story and a dark reflection on the modern world, it has been called “a crystalline satire of a preening media elite too exhausted with pillaging the minds of consumers to notice the collapsing world around them” by Kirkus Reviews. The Savage Girl was selected as a New York Times Notable Book and has been translated into French, Italian, German, Polish, Japanese, and Thai.


His short story collection, City in Love (FC2/HarperCollins), tracks the street odysseys of a museum guard, a junk sculptor, an actor, two schoolchildren, an options trader, and others, in a surreal but eerily recognizable New York City of the year 1 B.C.  Loosely based on the myths of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and called “a refreshing contrast to the de rigueur solipsism of contemporary fiction’s urban dwellers” by the Review of Contemporary Fiction, City in Love was the winner of the FC2 National Fiction Competition.

A Brooklyn native, Alex Shakar now splits his time between Chicago and Urbana-Champaign, where he is a professor of Creative Writing at the University of Illinois.

Website: http://alexshakar.com


  • LUMINARIUM, a novel , Soho Press (August 15, 2011)
  • THE SAVAGE GIRL, a novel , HarperCollins (September 18, 2001)
  • CITY IN LOVE, stories , FC2/HarperCollins (November 1, 1996)


  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Fiction(2012)


  • Associate Professor at University of Illinois (August 2004 - )


  • Doctoral Degree in English/Creative Writing from University of Illinois at Chicago (May 2002)
  • Master of Arts in English/Creative Writing from University of Texas at Austin (May 1995)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Literature from Yale University (May 1990)

Genres of Interest

Fiction, Creative nonfiction, Screenwriting