S.L. Wisenberg

Even as a fourth-generation Jewish Texan, S.L. Wisenberg has always felt the ghost of Europe dogging her steps, making her feel uneasy in her body and in the world. At age six, she’s sure that she hears Nazis at her bedroom window and knows that after they take her away, she’ll die without her asthma meds. Later in life, she makes her first and only trip to the mikvah while healing from a breast biopsy (benign this time), prompting an exploration of misogyny, shame, and woman-fear in rabbinical tradition.


With wit, verve, blood, scars, and a solid dose of self-deprecation, Wisenberg wanders across the expanse of continents and combs through history books and family records in her search for home and meaning. Her travels take her from Selma, Alabama, where her Eastern European Jewish ancestors once settled, to Vienna, where she tours Freud’s home and figures out what women really want, and she visits Auschwitz, which—disappointingly—leaves no emotional mark.


Called "humorous, melancholy, and universally relatable" by distinguished essayist Phillip Lopate, The Wandering Womb: Essays in Search of Home by S.L. Wisenberg is a collection that weaves together archival record and memoir to ask how we decide who we are—and how the past influences our identity and our lives.


S.L. Wisenberg is the author of The Wandering Womb: Essays in Search of Home, winner of the Juniper Prize in nonfiction, published by the University of Massachusetts Press. She's also the author of a short-story collection, The Sweetheart Is In; an essay collection, Holocaust Girls: History, Memory, & Other Obsessions; and a nonfiction chronicle, The Adventures of Cancer Bitch. She lives in Chicago and edits Another Chicago Magazine. She has an MFA in fiction from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and a BSJ from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. For ten years she was co-director of Northwestern's then-MA/MFA in Creative Writing program. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Holocaust Education Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council, Wisenberg works as a writing coach, editor, and creative writing instructor in Chicago.