Nathaniel Popkin

Nathaniel Popkin is the author of five books, including the new novel Everything is Borrowed (New Door Books), called “utterly absorbing” by the writer Robin Black, and the co-editor of Who Will Speak for America?, a literary anthology in response to the American political crisis, forthcoming in June 2018 (Temple University Press). He is the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine, as well as a prolific book critic—and National Book Critics Circle member—focusing on literary fiction and works in translation. His work has appeared in the Wall Street JournalPublic BooksThe RumpusTablet MagazineLitHubThe Millions, and the Kenyon Review, among other publications.

As a keen observer of cities and lived places, Popkin has often turned his eye to the layers of history and life in his own city. He’s the founding co-editor of the Hidden City Daily, a web magazine that covers architecture, design, planning, and preservation in Philadelphia, and the co-author of the 2017 work of non-fiction, Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City (Temple University Press). He’s also the senior writer and story editor of the multi-part documentary film series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment,” for which his work has been recognized with several Emmy awards. He was the guest architecture critic of the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2011-12.

Popkin’s first novel, Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press), is a mediation on originality and influence in art. It reimagines the life and tragic death of the first great American genre painter, John Lewis Krimmel. Lion and Leopard was a finalist for the Foreword Reviews Indie Book of the Year Award, and novelist Ken Kalfus described it as “historical literary fiction at its most engaging.”

Lion and Leopard followed two books of literary non-fiction, the 2002 Song of the City(Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and the 2008 essay collection, The Possible City (Camino Books).

Popkin has been a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellow and a writer-in-residence at Philadelphia University and the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.

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  1. […] Nathaniel Popkin is the author of Everything is Borrowed, a novel releasing in June, 2018. The story imagines a stories from historical past, recent past, and present all taking place in the present day. Centered on the actions of an anarchist, the book examines in part how we sometimes seduce each other in to self-betrayal. Popkin’s story uses a disillusioned architect as a catalyst to the discovery of the story of the anarchist. He pulls from “the vast fabric” of Philadelphia, the city in which he lives and where the novel takes place. Prior to this novel, Popkin wrote three non-fiction books about the city of Philadelphia. His non-fiction books consistently examine the “hidden” city of Philadelphia. Popkin says he borrows fragments of people’s lives and places to help them stand up again. The theme of belief and the ways in which it can be blinding are also explored, particular in the story of the anarchist in his upcoming novel. In his own life, the spectacle of re-edification of the Torah throughout Jewish religious education heavily influences this theme. Popkin has long been tuned into concepts of otherness, immigration, foreignness, issues that are certainly coming to a head in our present sociopolitical culture but are also nothing new under the sun. To hear more about Nathaniel Popkin’s work and a deeper analysis of his upcoming novel, listen to the complete interview. […]