Obituary: Wendi Kaufman, Author

Wendi Kaufman/Credit: Elizabeth OsborneWendi Kaufman, an accomplished writer who lived in Fox Mill, died on Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. She was 50.

Kaufman’s collection of short stories, Helen on 86th Street, is set to be published by Stillhouse Press in September.

Kaufman was a graduate of George Mason University’s MFA writing program. She was a frequent contributor to Washingtonian and The Washington Post. Her fiction writing had been published in the New Yorker, as well as many literary journals and magazines.

“I grew up in a sleepy town in the Hudson River Valley, about an hour from New York City, the kind of place Washington Irving wrote about,” Kaufman told an interviewer who used the original Helen on 86th Street story as a classroom assignment.

“I always felt it was a boring town, a place where nothing ever happened. What I didn’t realize was that the most important things were happening around me every day, the drama of daily life.”

A New York native, Kaufman was a winner of the Mary Roberts Rhinehart Award for Short Fiction and was a Breadloaf Writer’s Conference Scholar in Fiction. She also was a fellowship awardee from the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

Kaufman was also a voracious reader. She once gave this advice for young writers:

“Simple: Read, read, read. And, of course, keep writing. There are things that come out on the page, when pen hits paper, that you weren’t expecting, that you didn’t plan for. Those are the moments we all strive for. Writing is about possibilities, about freedom of the blank page.”

Kaufman was a member of Shoreshim of Reston. She is survived by her husband, David, and two teenage sons, Alex and Eli.

Memorial contributions can be made to Inova’s Life With Cancer Program.

 Photo: Wendi Kaufman/Credit: Elizabeth Osborne

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