Skip to main content

Sarah Schulman

Ralla Klepak Professor of English


Sarah Schulman teaches Creative Writing (Nonfiction and Fiction) with an emphasis on manuscript development. She is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, nonfiction writer and AIDS historian.

Sarah is a native New Yorker, born in 1958, who started as a journalist in the grassroots lesbian, gay and feminist press in 1979. That year she became active in the Reproductive Rights Movement, working for abortion rights and against sterilization abuse. Her first plays were produced as part of the Downtown Arts Scene of the 1980's, and her first novel was published in 1984.

In 1986 Sarah and her longtime collaborator Jim Hubbard started MIX:The Queer Experimental Film and Video Festival which lasted for 33 years. She has been a collaborator on many experimental films, including screenwriter or co-screenwriter for 4 features: The Owls (dir. Cheryl Dunye), Mommy Is Coming (dir. Cheryl Dunye), Jason and Shirley (dir. Stephen Winter) and United In Anger: A History of ACT UP (dir. Jim Hubbard.) Her films have shown in Theatrical Distribution and  at The Berlin Film Festival, Hot Docs, Bamfest, The Museum of Modern Art, Outfest, and on the Criterian Collection.

She was a member of ACT UP, New York from 1987 to 1992, and a co-founder of the Lesbian Avengers. Today she serves on the Advisory Board of Jewish Voice for Peace and is co-director of The ACT UP Oral History Project

She is the author of 20 books, including novels in multiple genres: historical fiction, literary fiction, experimental work, detective novels, speculative fiction. Sarah’s work as a journalist, activist, and novelist is extensively discussed in “Queer Kinship in Sarah Schulman’s AIDS Novels” (Routledge 2024), a research monograph juxtaposing the works about the AIDS epidemic which were well-received by the mainstream America with Schulman’s own output as a “bard of AIDS burnout,” in the words of Edmund White.

In 2002, Sarah became an "Uptown" playwright with the world premiere of her play CARSON McCULLERS (dir. Marion McClinton) followed by MANIC FLIGHT REACTION (w/ Deirdre O'Connell), both at Playwrights Horizons. Her play THE BURNING DECK (w/ Diane Venora) was performed at the La Jolla Playhouse, her adaptation of IB Singer's ENEMIES, A LOVE STORY (w/ Morgan Spector) premiered at the Wilma Theater and THE LADY HAMLET opened at The Provincetown Theater (dir. by David Drake, W/ Jennifer Van Dyck.) Her plays have been developed at The Goodman Theater, The Cleveland Playhouse, The Berkshire Theater Festival, The Vineyard, The Roundabout, and many other theaters.


Creative Writing


Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP, New York 1987-1993
Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP, New York 1987-1993  (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021)
Lambda Book Award in Nonfiction, Special Award from the Publishing Triangle in Nonfiction, National LGBT Journalists Association Book Award, Finalist- PEN John Kenneth Gailbraith Award in Nonfiction, Finalist- Gotham Book Award, New York Times Notable Book, NY Times Editor's Choice.
Maggie Terry
Maggie Terry (New York: Feminist Press, 2018)
The Cosmopolitans 
The Cosmopolitans  (New York: Feminist Press at CUNY, 2016)
"One of the best novels of 2016"- Publishers Weekly
Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair
Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016)
Publishing Triangle Nonfiction Book Award
The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness To A Lost Imagination
The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness To A Lost Imagination  (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012)
10 Best Most Unknown Books - Slate, "Best Unrecognized Books" of the year by GalleyCat.
Israel/Palestine and the Queer International
Israel/Palestine and the Queer International (Duke University Press, 2012)
The Mere Future
The Mere Future (New York: Vancouver: Arsenal, 2009)
Mercy (Belladonna Books, 2008)
The Child
The Child (New York: Carroll and Graff, 2007)
Carson McCullers (Historically Inaccurate)
Carson McCullers (Historically Inaccurate) (Playscripts, Inc.: New York, 2006)
SHIMMER (New York: Avon, 1998)
Stagestruck: Theater, Aids and the Marketing of Gay America
Stagestruck: Theater, Aids and the Marketing of Gay America (Chapel Hill: Duke University Press, 1998)
Rat Bohemia 
Rat Bohemia  (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1995)
Empathy  (New York : E.P. Dutton, 1992)
People In Trouble  
People In Trouble   (New York : E.P. Dutton, 1990)
After Delores 
After Delores  (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1988)
Girls, Visions and Everything 
Girls, Visions and Everything  (Seattle: Seal Press, 1986)
The Sophie Horowitz Story 
The Sophie Horowitz Story  (Tallahassee Florida: Naiad Press, 1984)

Sarah's books and plays  have been translated into French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Dutch, Greek, Swedish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Italian, Russian, Polish, and British Editions.


  • Let The Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP, New York (read by Roslyn Coleman Williams, Introduction by the author) Audible, 2021 
  • Conflict Is Not Abuse (read by author), 2018 
  • Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences (read by the author) Audible, 2014 
  • The Mere Future (read by the author) Audible, 2014 

PLAYS - Published 

  • Carson McCullers (Playscripts, Inc.: New York 2006) – paperback original 
  • Mercy, in Robert Gluck and Sarah Schulman, New York: Belladonna, 2008 


  • Guggenheim Fellow in Playwrighting
  • Fulbright Fellow in Judaic Studies
  • Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Contribution to LGBT Publishing
  • 2 American Library Association Book Awards (Fiction and Nonfiction)
  • 3 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships (Playwrighting, Fiction)
  • 9 Residencies at The MacDowell Colony
  • 5 Residencies at Yaddo
  • Ann Snitow Prize for Creative and Effective Feminism
  • Fellow, New York Institute for the Humanities at the NY Public Library


2 Novels

ROE V WADE (play)



SHIMMER (musical) with composer Anthony Davis and lyricist Michael Korie

SNOW QUEEN - The music of Marianne Faithfull


AFTER DELORES- film (Camilla Wren, producer)

ACT UP - Televisions series (producers Killer Films and Concordia Films)

SOPHIE (Adrienne Rush show runner)

and other book, stage, TV, film projects


Books About

Conversations with Sarah Schulman

editor Will Brantley, University Press of Mississippi (forthcoming 2024)


Jarosław Milewski, Queer Kinship in Sarah Schulman’s AIDS Novels
New York: Routledge (forthcoming 2024)