Jan Eliasberg

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New York City, The United States
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June 2009


Jan Eliasberg is an award-winning writer/director with an MFA in Directing from the Yale School of Drama and an MFA in Fiction from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson, where she was mentored by Charles Baxter, Joan Silber and Antonya Nelson. HANNAH'S WAR is her debut novel -- HANNAH'S WAR will be published by Little, Brown on March 3, 2020.
Eliasberg has a notable career as a screenwriter, writing films and television series driven by strong female leads. She wrote W.A.S.P. about the Women Air Service Pilots in WWII for Nicole Kidman and Cameron Diaz at FOX. Mi Corazon was written for Universal, with Jennifer Lopez attached to star. She wrote Heart ‘N Soul, a “hip hop Pygmalion” for Warner Brothers, and The Gemcutter, a YA historic
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Jan Eliasberg Since it's now September and summer is officially over, I'll share a couple of the books that I read and loved this summer: THE GIFTED SCHOOL by Bruce…moreSince it's now September and summer is officially over, I'll share a couple of the books that I read and loved this summer: THE GIFTED SCHOOL by Bruce Holsinger; Kate Atkinson's BIG SKY (anything by Kate Atkinson always goes straight to the top of my list); Julie Orringer's THE FLIGHT PORTFOLIO; ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane and Susan Choi's spectacular TRUST EXERCISE.(less)
Jan Eliasberg One of the very best things about being a writer is being able to work in my pajamas all day. I have a wardrobe of lounging pajamas, like Nora in THE …moreOne of the very best things about being a writer is being able to work in my pajamas all day. I have a wardrobe of lounging pajamas, like Nora in THE THIN MAN, that look elegant, are incredibly comfortable, and don't make me feel like a slug.
But, on a more serious note, I'm entranced by living in the world of another character, being able to see the world through his or her eyes, describing it in minute detail as she sees it -- the extravagant joy of finding the precise word or the pitch-perfect line of dialogue (which is always about what the character wants and they they would go about getting it, never about what they actually say). Being in this state of "flow" as a writer is perfect happiness.
The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly describes flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."
I used this idea of flow in HANNAH'S WAR when I described the initial collaboration between Hannah Weiss and Stefan Frei. "She was happy to see him arrive each morning, knowing that the work would ignite an electrical storm in her brain. Once silent, dank, and somber, the room now crackled with ideas, laughter, and moments of genius. They danced in synchrony around the lab with physical ease, almost elation, and a rare collaborative chemistry. But the most intoxicating aspect of Stefan was not the brilliance he brought into the room; it was the brilliance he brought out in her. Hannah had never experienced such exquisite insight. When he spoke of the possibilities of fission, she was aware of every molecule of chalk dust on her fingertips. Since she’d been a child, she’d known there was something inside her—something dormant and unsafe and exhilarating—and now it had a context. When she closed her eyes and listened to the sound of his voice intercut with the frenetic scritch-scratch of chalk on blackboard, she felt herself on the verge of a universe reordered. The theoretical became physical. At last, all the long-imagined possibilities that lay in the harnessing of atomic power, the applications of her wildest dreams, everything her father had groomed her for—it was all within reach. The clarity terrified her so close at hand, but far more powerfully, it thrilled her to the core. "
That captures the ecstatic experience of "flow" for me as a writer.
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Average rating: 3.83 · 1,329 ratings · 242 reviews · 1 distinct workSimilar authors
Hannah's War

3.83 avg rating — 1,329 ratings — published 2020 — 11 editions
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"Triumphant Tale!" -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY REVIEW

Hannah’s War
Jan Eliasberg. Back Bay, $16.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-53744-5
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Eliasberg’s fast-paced, insightful debut explores one woman’s anxiety about helping to create the world’s first nuclear weapon. Dr. Hannah Weiss, a Jew who escaped Nazi Germany, works with the Americans on the atom bomb in 1945 Los Alamos, N.Mex., where, thanks to her ex Read more of this blog post »
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Published on January 14, 2020 22:17

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Jan Eliasberg voted for Valentine as Best Debut Novel in the Final Round of the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards.
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More of Jan's books…
“A time of war is a time of amplified connection and disconnection. Our allegiance to everything we love takes on a dangerous primacy, while our fear of everything we hate dons the sheep's clothing of righteousness.”
Jan Eliasberg, Hannah's War

“Why didn't you turn on your heel and walk away?" Oppenheimer's remorseless gaze settled on the horizon. "I'll tell you why - no true scientist would walk away from the possibility of releasing the energy of matter itself, literally transforming the composition of things. Your'er the same as all of us. Our curiosity is boundless. Our morality is convenient.”
Jan Eliasberg, Hannah's War

“The Torah talks about the Sabbath in different ways. We're told in Exodus to remember, zachor, and keep it holy. In Devarim, it says to observe, shamor, and keep it holy. Zachor speaks to the positive, the bread, wine, prayer, and song, everything we celebrate, eat and drink, and rejoice in. Shamor speaks to the negative - that which is prohibited, the work and play we set aside, the pleasures from which we abstain. This isn't to say these things are good or bad, Hannah. It does not refer to right or wrong. More like inhale and exhale. That which we choose to keep and that which we choose to let go - both are holy.”
Jan Eliasberg, Hannah's War

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