Writer Richard Price, a friend for almost two decades, sees Prose’s declarations as more deliberate. “She enjoys deflating conventions,” he says.
Raised in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, the daughter of two doctors, Prose graduated from Radcliffe in 1968 and earned a master’s in English from Harvard. Her first novel, Judah the Pious, was published in 1973.
Prose and her husband, artist Howard Michels, split their time between a Greenwich Village apartment and a home in New York’s Hudson Valley, where they raised their now grown sons, Leon and Bruno. Spalding Gray lived in the guesthouse for two summers, and country dinner parties bring together any manner of guests, from state troopers and photographers to carpenters. “It’s come one, come all,” says Robert Duffy, president of Marc Jacobs International and a close friend. “Francine is the most nonjudgmental person I’ve met in my entire life.”
And possibly the most tireless. Prose is currently writing a book on the cultural history of The Diary of Anne Frank, helming classes at both Bard and Baruch colleges, and planning her next novel, which will be set in an Eastern European embassy. A profound love of storytelling, she says, continues to drive her. As a child, she recalls, “I was always reading, and I wanted to be in the world of the book. Once I realized I could create that world, it was a revelation.”