By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
Hyde Park author Annette Gendler will be spending a year writing in the attic of Ernest Hemingway’s home, thanks to an Oak Park-based residency program.
The literary non-fiction author applied to be the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park’s 2014-2015 Writer in Residence and learned during a trip to Israel earlier this month that she was accepted.
“For me, it’s really an honor. I’m a great admirer of Hemingway in the sense that I learned a lot from him about the craft of writing and the process of writing,” Gendler said.
A New Jersey native who grew up in Germany, Gendler moved to Hyde Park for a master’s degree in International Relations. “After I got my M.A. my husband got an M.B.A. here, and we’ve just always liked the neighborhood,” she said.
Although Gendler — whose grandfather was a playwright — says she has always liked writing, it was not until the past decade that she began taking it seriously and enrolled in an M.F.A. program at Queens University of Charlotte, in North Carolina.
The former human resources consultant says she began to question what she wanted to do with her life and was inspired by a trip to the Czech Republic, where her grandparents were two of the approximately three million ethnic Germans expelled during World War II. There, she began writing about the places she visited.
“It was a very moving, sort of emotionally-laden trip for me,” Gendler said, adding that afterwards “I started writing about it and trying to understand the history more and what exactly happened to my grandparents.”
Gendler is the editor of a collection of stories by local authors, entitled “Our Chicago: Eleven Writers on their City.” She is also an instructor at Story Studio in Lakeview, where she teaches a class on memoir writing.
Now, she’ll be writing in Hemingway’s attic — once she gets the key to it.
“I’m kind of intimidated a little bit, actually, to be up there, so I have to live up to it,” she said. “Which I think will be good for me.”
To learn more about Gendler and read her writing — including a recent account of life in Tel Aviv during the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict — visit annettegendler.com.