Eric Larsen was born in Northfield,
Minnesota, where, after going to the public schools, he graduated from
Carleton College in the class of 1963. He took an M.A. in English from the University
of Iowa and in 1971 completed his Ph.D. there, with Robert Scholes
as one of his faculty advisors. For his dissertation, under the
direction of William Cotter Murray, he wrote a volume of original stories accompanied
by his own critical commentaries.
In 1971, after living abroad for two years, Larsen joined the English
Department of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in the City University
of New York, and remained there until his retirement in early 2006.
He is married to the editor Anne Larsen. The couple have two grown daughters.
Larsen published stories and essays in quarterlies and magazines throughout
the 1970s and 1980s, and in 1988 Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill brought
out his novel, An American Memory
which became the first winner of the Chicago Tribune’s
Heartland Prize for year's best novel of or about the middle
In 1992, Algonquin published I Am Zoë
Handke a novel that complemented and advanced several of
An American Memory’s elements and themes. The third in a tetralogy named Late U.S.A. was published in 2008 under the imprint of Progressive Press. It is entitled The End of
the 19th Century, and people can buy copies of it by clicking here. Excerpts from the fourth in the tetralogy, The Decline & Fall of the American
Nation, are available here.
The subjects of literary and political culture, and of changes in them,
have been among Larsen's strongest interests throughout his career,
a fact testified to by his fifth book, a non-fiction work published in 2006 and entitled A Nation
Gone Blind: America in an Age of Simplification and Deceit.
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