Hilton Obenzinger writes fiction, poetry, history and criticism. His books have received the American Book Award and other honors. His most recent books include Witness: 2017-2020 (Irene Weinberger Books, 2021), a powerful testimony of four strange years filled with rage, fear, laughter, and joy, and Treyf Pesach [Un-kosher Passover], a collection of holy blasphemous poems (Ithuriel’s Spear, 2017). He has also published How We Write: The Varieties of Writing Experience, based on the series of “How I Write” public conversations with Stanford faculty and other advanced writers. His other books include Beginning: The Immigration Poems, 1924-1926, of Nachman Obzinger, poems by his father translated from the Yiddish by Benjamin Weiner, edited by Hilton Obenzinger.
His other books include the autobiographical novel Busy Dying, a* Hole, an experimental fiction on parents and children, creators and creations, gods and mortals, Running Through Fire: How I Survived the Holocaust by Zosia Goldberg as told to Hilton Obenzinger, an oral history of his aunt’s ordeal during the war; American Palestine: Melville, Twain and the Holy Land Mania, a literary and historical study of America’s fascination with the Holy Land; Cannibal Eliot and the Lost Histories of San Francisco, a novel of invented documents that recounts the history of San Francisco from the Spanish conquest to the 1906 earthquake and fire; New York on Fire, a history of the fires of New York in verse, selected by the Village Voice as one of the best books of the year and nominated by the Bay Area Book Reviewer’s Association for its award in poetry; This Passover Or The Next I Will Never Be in Jersualem, which received the American Book Award of the Before Columbus Foundation.
Earlier books include The Day of the Exquisite Poet is Kaput, Thunder Road, and Bright Lights! Big City!, and he is featured in Five on the Western Edge. He is also co-editor of A Cinch: Amazing Works from the Columbia Review.
Born in 1947 in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, and graduating Columbia University in 1969, he has taught on the Yurok Indian Reservation, operated a community printing press in San Francisco’s Mission District, co-edited a publication devoted to Middle East peace, worked as a commercial writer and instructional designer, taught writing, comedy, and American literature at Stanford University.
Hilton received his doctorate in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford. Currently, he is Associate Director Emeritus of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University.