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Ehud Havazelet, 1955-2015, “Fiery, Brilliant, Unstinting”

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The UO mourns the loss of creative writing professor Ehud Havazelet, who died Nov. 5 at age 60.

“Ehud was an engrossing and demanding teacher, who loved being in the classroom and attended to every aspect of writing from the comma to the cosmic,” said Karen Ford, associate dean of humanities and professor of English. “He could make a discussion of sentence mechanics riveting and an explication of a Flannery O’Connor story transforming.”

Havazelet, who joined the UO faculty in 1999 to teach fiction, was a two-time Oregon Book Award winner—in 1999, for his short-story collection, Like Never Before, and again in 2008 for his novel Bearing the Body.

His work was also nationally acclaimed, with honors such as the Guggenheim Fellowship, Rockefeller Fellowship, Whiting Writers Award and Pushcart Prize. Two of his books were named New York Times Notables and his story “Gurov in Manhattan” was included in The Best American Short Stories 2011.

Havazelet is remembered as both a master craftsman and passionate teacher. In a tribute on the creative writing homepage, UO poetry professor Garrett Hongo characterizes his colleague as “fiery, brilliant, unstinting, mercurial, and very, very loving of our students and our shared enterprise of creating lasting work.”

“Havazelet will be remembered for the beauty and precision of his writing and for his generosity as a teacher and friend,” wrote staff writer Jeff Baker in a remembrance in the Oregonian.

Ford recalls that Middlemarch was Havazelet’s favorite novel, and “like Middlemarch, Ehud was capacious and complex—brilliant, learned, tender, funny, ironic, cynical, hopeful,” she said. “In my last conversation with him, tenderness prevailed.”

Havazelet received a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He was named a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and went on to teach at Oregon State University before coming to the UO.

He was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002 and received a bone marrow transplant, living with the aftermath of cancer treatment until his death this month from complications of pneumonia.

The creative writing department will announce plans in December for a memorial.

Read Ehud’s obituary in the Corvallis Gazette Times.

Share memories of Ehud at


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