Nell Zink: Biography

Nell Zink

Nell Zink is an American writer who has produced two successful novels. Her debut, The Wallcreeper (2014), was named one of 100 notable books of 2014 by The New York Times, and her second novel, Mislaid (2015), was longlisted for the National Book Award. Prior to these novels, Zink wrote Sailing Towards the Sunset by Avner Shats (unpublished) and founded a magazine called Animal Review, which ran from 1993 to 1997.

Zink was born in California and raised in Virginia, and is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. Her first experience with writing for an audience was with Animal Review when she lived in west Philadelphia. It was an animal-themed post-punk fanzine that featured submissions and interviews with punk musicians about their pets. It had a circulation of around 80 readers. Her later work was only written for friends and ranged from Viennese-style operettas to full novels.

It is likely that no one would have discovered Zink if it weren’t for her environmental activism, which led her to write a memorable letter to American novelist and essayist (and birder) Jonathan Franzen on behalf of the German ornithologist, Martin Schneider-Jacoby. After Franzen tried to promote her work to no avail, his publisher managed to negotiate a six figure publishing contract for Mislaid.

Zink lives in Bad Belzig, Germany, and has worked in construction waited tables, as a secretary and as a translator. She has been married twice, to Benjamin Alexander Burck (a US citizen) and to Israeli composer and poet Zohar Eitan.