Award-winning novelist and short story writer Laura van den Berg will give a master class for us on Thursday, 8 June 2023 from 18:30 to 20:00 at Studio BloemDwars, Bloemgracht 167, 1016 KM Amsterdam (see map). We hope you can stay for drinks, bites and conversation afterward.

Laura is the author of five works of fiction, including the novel The Third Hotel (finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award) and her most recent collection, I Hold a Wolf by the Ears (named as one of Time Magazine’s 10 Best Fiction Books of 2020). We will be looking at I Hold a Wolf by the Ears to talk about Laura’s use of concrete sensory details for setting, characterization, and theme; her love of writing into the liminal space between realist fiction and the surreal or fantastical; as well as more general issues of craft, process and publishing.

To get the most out of the class, we encourage you to read the book in advance. You can purchase a copy in ebook, paperback and audiobook formats from most major retailers. If you’re based in Amsterdam, check with the American Book Center.



Laura van den Berg was born and raised in Florida. She sometimes denies writing fantastical fiction; she says that’s just the way Florida is. Laura is the author of two novels, three short story collections and a fiction chapbook. Laura has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Strauss Livings Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Bard Fiction Prize, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and an O. Henry Award. Her stories have appeared in The Paris Review, BOMB, Virginia Quarterly Review, McSweeney’s, Conjunctions, Freeman’s, American Short Fiction, Ploughshares, and One Story. Laura teaches creative writing at Harvard.

Karen Kao is an instructor with the International Writers’ Collective. She is the winner of the 2022 Kenyon Review Short Nonfiction Prize. Her published work includes her debut novel The Dancing Girl and the Turtle, lyric essays in the Kenyon Review and Pleiades, and short stories nominated for the Pushcart, Best of the Net and the VERA.



In this series, working writers talk tips, tricks and techniques with a focus on a single novel or collection. The classes are conducted in an interview format with plenty of room for questions. Check out our podcast archive to listen to recordings of previous Master Classes with writers such as A.M. Homes, winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction; Kristen Roupenian, author of the viral short story “Cat Person”; Jennifer Clement, then PEN International president; and Lauren Groff, the author of Barack Obama’s favourite book of 2015.

Photo credit: Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons.

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