“Every one of us has a kind of official story that we present to others, to strangers we meet, or even to people we know…But if we are lucky enough to find a good listener, a sympathetic witness, then they will make us tell not only our official story but the story underneath it…The power of a good story is that it does not protect us but instead exposes us and brings us into closer contact with our own life.” — David Grossman
The very best stories are often highly constructed, although they may appear perfectly natural. In this class, open to writers with all levels of experience, we will pick them apart, learn by dissecting stories with an eye for how they're built, and the choices authors like Jhumpa Lahiri, James Baldwin, and Jennifer Egan made to create their work.
This is primarily a workshop course, which means you’ll be reading work written by your peers, and then you will provide positive reinforcement and suggest ways it can be strengthened. Reading someone else’s work to see how it can be improved will help you to read your own work with an eye on craft, which will make you a better writer. In this class, I hope we will be sympathetic listeners to each other, and write stories that bring us into closer contact with our own life.
Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.
Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.
- Receive peer and instructor feedback on two short stories
- Learn what makes a story work
- Explore central short story craft elements
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Submit twice for workshop (a short story of between 5-10 pages), read work by peers and published work, write very short weekly writing prompts
Week 1: Story Structure; Workshop
Week 2: Character; Workshop
Week 3: Setting; Workshop
Week 4: Detail; Workshop
Week 5: Objects in Fiction; Workshop
Week 6: Endings;Workshop
Omer Friedlander was born in Jerusalem in 1994 and grew up in Tel Aviv. He earned a BA in English Literature from the University of Cambridge, England, and an MFA from Boston University, where he was supported by the Saul Bellow Fellowship. His short stories have won numerous awards, and have been published in the United States, Canada, France, and Israel. A Starworks Fellow in Fiction at New York University, he has earned a Bread Loaf Work-Study Scholarship as well as a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. He currently lives in New York City.
“A beautiful debut by a deeply humane writer. Every story is a vivid world unto itself, intensely felt, and often revelatory.”
“In these wise, capacious, achingly beautiful stories, Omer Friedlander maps the hidden geography of the human heart like a young Chekhov. Each one feels like a fresh new discovery, and collected together, THE MAN WHO SOLD AIR IN THE HOLY LAND becomes a sustained feat of imaginative compassion.”
“Innovative in conception, classical in spirit, these stories, set largely in Israel, resonate with international ramifications. Rarely do we encounter a writer so young but also this wise. . . . A splendid literary debut.”—Ha Jin, National Book Award–winning author of Waiting
“Friedlander blends fable and realism in extraordinarily imaginative ways. Again and again, he achieves a fine balance between the tragic and the absurd. But what is most striking is how full of deeply felt human experience and authentic emotion his fiction is. Every one of these stories moved me and taught me something I did not know before.”
“Omer Friedlander is a marvelous new voice, bringing magic, chance, and surprise to his stories without ever losing sight of the human and the real. I’d follow this writer anywhere.”
“As outrageously funny as they are outrageously tender, Friedlander’s stories conjure complex and often difficult emotions with perfect acrobatic skill. This terrible world, he seems to be telling us, is so terribly wonderful that it is perfectly all right to laugh and cry at the same time... A superb collection.”
“THE MAN WHO SOLD AIR IN THE HOLY LAND is a beautifully written collection, and Omer Friedlander is an exceptionally thoughtful writer. He tells these stories with care and attention equal to the complexities of the people and places that fill their pages. I’m already looking forward to what he’ll do next.”
“With Omer Friedlander as our guide, we are expertly transported over their topographies and even across their respective borders. He is a remarkable talent.”
“Friedlander’s voice mixes those two nearly unmixables: intelligence and whimsy. He is one of those rare authors who can trap each moment in a surprising and somehow perfect detail. A major work—I urge you to read it.”
"In Omer Friedlander’s wonderful stories even the animals bear the weight of history—a one-eyed cat named Moshe Dayan, a turtle named Ghetto Lodz—but it’s the people who are most indelible. A man who sells air in Tel Aviv, a Polish Jewish prima ballerina who kills a Nazi officer with the tip of her heel: there’s a touch of magic in these stories reminiscent of I.B. Singer and Nathan Englander. But the world Friedlander creates is all his own. Through his orange-grove workers, junk collectors, soldiers, and grieving mothers, he makes Israel and Palestine—the whole history of the Middle East—come alive. THE MAN WHO SOLD AIR IN THE HOLY LAND is an astonishing, breathtaking debut."
“[A] touching debut collection.”
“Friedlander debuts with a dynamic collection. . . . With sensitivity and compassion [he] imbues his characters with a deeply felt humanity, and his finely tuned command of emotional tenor will evoke tears and laughter in equal measure. . . . These superior character portraits make for an auspicious start.”
"Professor Friedlander led an amazing class and his weekly assignments encouraged growth. Workshop and craft lessons provided a nice balance of learning and practice! Overall, incredible instructor."
"Omer was extremely inclusive, helpful, and approachable. I found his teaching style conducive to creating an environment that nurtures writing and idea generation, along with the detailed feedback he provided."
"I really appreciated the intimacy of class discussion. It included everyone and provided a really comfortable and deep dive into the material. Omer was so approachable and a strong leader of the class."