HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Lauren Belfer

New York Times Bestselling Author of City of Light, A Fierce Radiance, & And After the Fire, a 2016 National Jewish Book Award Winner


  • The Real People and Places in And After the Fire
  • Transforming Fact into Fiction in Three Historical Novels: City of Light, A Fierce Radiance, and And After the Fire
  • Jewish Women and Their Salons in 18th and 19th Century Berlin
  • Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Composer: The Struggle of One Creative Woman in the 19th Century
  • A Change in the Nature of Life: Portraying the Development of Antibiotics in A Fierce Radiance
  • Portraying a City and its History in Fiction: Buffalo, New York, in 1901
  • The Virtues of Rejection


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Lauren Belfer’s debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller as well as a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. Her second novel, A Fierce Radiance (Harper), was named a Washington Post Best Novel, an NPR Best Mystery, and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. And After the Fire (Harper), her most recent novel, received a 2016 National Jewish Book Award.

In And After the Fire, Belfer returns with a powerful and passionate novel — inspired by historical events — about two women, one European and one American, and the mysterious choral masterpiece by Johann Sebastian Bach that changes both their lives. And After the Fire traverses over two hundred years of history, from the eighteenth century through the Holocaust and into today, seamlessly melding past and present, real and imagined. Belfer’s deeply researched, evocative, and compelling narrative resonates with emotion and immediacy.

From libraries and historical societies to literary festivals, book clubs, and religious, cultural, and community centers, Belfer has spoken across the country to audiences of all sizes. A passionate storyteller, she speaks on many topics, ranging from fiction and literature to women’s studies, Jewish identity and history, classical music, and the effect of new technologies — the electrification of America in City of Light, and the development of antibiotics in A Fierce Radiance — on everyday life.

Belfer’s fiction has also been published in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and Henfield Prize Stories. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post Book World, the Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere. Belfer grew up in Buffalo, New York. At Swarthmore College, she majored in Medieval Studies. After graduating, she worked as a file clerk at an art gallery, a paralegal, an assistant photo editor at a newspaper, a fact checker at magazines, and as a researcher and associate producer on documentary films. Her first published short story was rejected forty-two times before it found an editor who loved it. Her second published short story was, she says, much more successful: it was rejected only twenty-seven times. She has an M.F.A. from Columbia University.

Currently, she resides in New York City with her husband, the musicologist and writer Michael Marissen.

Praise for Lauren Belfer and her events:

“Lauren brought her stunning historical novel to life for our audience. She was warm and engaging while revealing the richness of her characters and the beautiful blend of fact and fiction. She is a passionate and delightful speaker.”
– Megan Evans, Christamore House Guild Book and Author Benefit, Indianapolis

“Lauren Belfer spoke with conviction, knowledge, warmth, and humor at the launch of our book conversations group in March 2017. Our group of fifty women listened in earnest as Lauren shared the extensively researched background information that inspired her book And After the Fire. Ms. Belfer is an exemplary professional and a superlative storyteller. She was instrumental in helping to create the magical moment of a community of readers forging a bond.”
– Marian Ehrlich, Coordinator, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Book Conversations, Sarasota, FL

“Lauren Belfer has been our most popular guest author at the Larkin Square Author Series, an event presented with Talking Leaves, an independent book store in Buffalo. We invite her to return each year as she always has something new to share with her audience. She is engaging speaking about her own books as well as interviewing other authors about their work and process. She puts tremendous effort into her talks and the results are in the audience size, appreciation and book sales!”
– Leslie Zemsky, Larkin Square Director of Fun, Buffalo, NY

“… An altogether fascinating evening!”
– Roxana Brauns, Director of Programming, The Jewish Public Library, Montreal, Canada

“Lauren Belfer is that eloquent speaker who provides a perfect vision of a past time and place, at once familiar and foreign to her audience. Through her stirring words and carefully chosen images, Lauren created eager listeners who kept asking questions and didn’t want the evening to end.”
– Mary Kozub, Education Program Manager, Burchfield Penney Art Center

“Lauren has presented at the New York Society Library on numerous occasions. She’s an engaging speaker who knows her audience and finds a way to connect using humor and engrossing stories that both illuminate and inform.”
– Carolyn Waters, Head Librarian, The New York Society Library

“It has been our privilege to have Lauren speak at our Club for three programs and a literary luncheon. She is always a delight — well-prepared, thought-provoking, and interesting. I’ve had the opportunity to hear Lauren not only at our Club but at other venues, such as art galleries and book stores. She’s generous with her time and talents, graciously answering questions, signing books, leaving her audiences enchanted.”
– Vivian Greene, President Emeritus, The Twentieth Century Club

Praise for And After the Fire:

The New Yorker

“A different species of suspense tale. … Evocative, deeply researched. … Dazzle[s] while delving into dark places.”
– Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

“Her virtuoso novel blends historical fiction, literary thriller, love story, and musicology. … The novel swells with life’s great themes — love and death, family and faith — and the insistent, dark music of loss.”
USA Today****

“This is finely written historical fiction layered with richly detailed characters and moral complexity.”
BBC, Ten Books To Read In May

“This captivating novel is based on real historical events that the author has skillfully woven into an unforgettably haunting story. I found And After the Fire very difficult to put down. As in her first book City of Light, Belfer grabs the reader from the beginning and holds on until the last sentence.”
Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore

And After the Fire is a bold and hugely ambitious novel with the transfixing appeal of a best-seller.”
The Buffalo News

“Belfer has created a fascinating historical novel and poignant love story that will open the eyes and ears of music lovers and please those who enjoy a graceful, spellbinding tale pondering important questions.”
Library Journal, Starred Review

“Told with lyrical beauty … the novel is like the lost cantata itself, revealing our capacity for darkness, redeemed by the power of unconditional love. A dazzling, transformative novel.”
Historical Novel Society

“An immersive, page-turning story emboldened by historical fact and a rich imagination.”
- Publishers Weekly

“An invaluable piece of music poses ethical questions in this compelling blend of fact and fiction. … Based on impressive research, this remarkable novel spans centuries and continents, touching finally on the Holocaust and serving as a paean to Bach’s music. … Absorbing historical fiction.”
Booklist, starred review

“A remarkably suspenseful story. A literary thriller in the tradition of A.S. Byatt’s Possession.”

“An intellectual thriller and a beautiful love story. What if you came into possession of an historical artifact with the power to alter history and change the world? Sure to establish Belfer as a fearless, provocative writer. Impossible to put down.”
– Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of At the Water’s Edge and Water for Elephants

“Brilliant and mesmerizing. … Since reading And After the Fire, I’ve been trumpeting it as the best novel I’ve had the pleasure of reading in years.”
– Elinor Lipman, New York Times bestselling author of Then She Found Me

Praise for A Fierce Radiance:

“Historical fiction that sizzles.”
The Washington Post

“A feast of storytelling wonders.”

“An adventure story.”
The New York Times Book Review

“A love story and murder mystery rolled into panoramic family saga and industrial-espionage thriller. … Belfer’s prose is heartbreaking, as are her twin themes of love and betrayal.”
USA Today

“Lauren Belfer’s story of love in the time of penicillin is enthralling. A Fierce Radiance shines with fascinating detail about a moment in American history we have mostly forgotten, when penicillin was new, miraculous, and in short supply. Belfer’s powerful portrayal of how people are changed in pursuit of a miracle makes this book an especially compelling read.”
– Nancy Horan, author of Loving Frank

“An engrossing and ambitious novel that vividly portrays a critical time in American history.”
Booklist, starred review

“Belfer’s second novel (after acclaimed A City of Light) follows the development of penicillin during World War II. This fulsome tale crackles with twists and rich, compelling characters struggling through. And it’s a beautiful valentine to 1940s New York City. Lauren Belfer is a feeling person’s Dan Brown! Great storytelling and worth the wait!”
– Eileen Charbonneau, Merritt Bookstore, Millbrook and Red Hook, New York

Praise for City of Light:

“Impressive. … A stereopticon of a novel, sepia-tinged at the edges, yet bursting with color at its center. … [A] vivid sense of the time and place. … [A] powerfully atmospheric book.”
New York Times

“An ingenious first novel. … Alive with historical figures who mingle seamlessly with the fictional characters. … A huge, sprawling portrait of the United States at the turn of the last century.”
New York Times Book Review

“Like Niagara Falls itself, it’s breathtaking in its achievement. Lauren Belfer’s first novel is a remarkable blend of murder mystery, love story, political intrigue, and tragedy of manners. … Belfer handles it all — large cast, big themes — with uncommon assurance.”
USA Today

“Ambitious, original, and timely. … Enormous creative energy in research and plot development. … A complicated and imaginative story with many daring subplots and colorful secondary characters.”
Washington Post Book World

“A full-to-the-brim first novel. … A straight-through, sleepless read.”
Time magazine

“Vibrant characters and a riveting plot will keep your eyes glued to the pages.”

“Suspenseful. … A historical novel of high intrigue.”

“Delicious melodrama. … Belfer shows off a masterful ability to keep pages turning. … Brilliant skill.”
San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

“Belfer’s microscopic attention to details of the period … give[s] the book’s fabric the dense quality of tapestry.”
Chicago Tribune

“A gift for social nuance … shapes this compelling debut. … [A] rich mix of fictional and historical figures. … With the assurance of an established writer, Belfer delivers a work of depth and polish. … Irresistible to the last page.”
Publishers Weekly

“Swift and graceful reading. … Exceptionally well-crafted.”
Library Journal

“An ambitious, vividly detailed, and stirring debut novel offering a panorama of American life at the beginning of the 20th century. … Very gripping. A remarkably assured and satisfying first novel.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Quite simply electrifying. … [A] rich novel. … [Belfer] creates a fascinating, disquieting world in which nothing is what it seems. … To Lauren Belfer’s endless credit, City of Light is panoramic, subtle, and very physical.”
– Amazon.com