Selected Works

A lyrical literary memoir that explores the exhilarating, sometimes surreal, discomforting, and ultimately healing process of Polish-Jewish reconciliation taking place in Poland today
In 1945, an American G.I. mails home a Japanese flag. Fifty years later, his daughter unfolds the past.
Five essays on performance
“…a dazzling and deeply impressive study of the performing arts.”
-Jonathan Kirsch, The Los Angeles Times

Interviews, Essays, Podcasts, Video

photo: Rick Loomis, LA Times

Louise Steinman is a writer and literary curator. Her work frequently deals with memory, history and reconciliation. Her book, The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father's War was cited as “A graceful, understated memoir… that draws its strength from the complexities it explores.” (New York Times Book Review) and “…an intimate and powerful story of the effects of war.” (James Bradley, author, Flags of Our Fathers). The book won the 2002 Gold Medal in Autobiography/​Memoir from ForeWord Magazine and has been the selection of several all-city and all-freshman reading programs. The book chronicles her quest to return a war “souvenir” to its owner and-- in the process-- illuminates how war changed one generation and shaped another.

Her first book, The Knowing Body: The Artist As Storyteller in Contemporary Performance (North Atlantic Books)—was hailed by the L.A. Times as a “dazzling study of the performing arts.” The Knowing Body is based on two decades of Louise’s experience as a performer/​director with So&So&So&So interdisciplinary theater troupe, and as a dance/​theater critic for publications ranging from Willamette Week to High Performance, Oakland Tribune and others.

Her most recent book, The Crooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation was published in hardcover, Nov 2013 by Beacon Press and the paperback is now available. She has given talks and lead dialogue groups about the book around the United States and in England.

Her essays and feature articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, New York Times Syndicate, L.A. Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine,, Washington Post and other publications. Her features have included profiles of Zen rabbis, elevator operators, artists, memoirists, combat veterans, translators, filmmakers, and an innovator in deaf education. “Ordinary bodhisattvas,” she calls them.

She has curated the award-winning ALOUD at Central Library series for the Los Angeles Public Library. ( for the past twenty-two years. She frequently interviews visiting authors. Among interviewees are Helen Macdonald, poet Jane Hirshfield, Terry Tempest Williams, Aleksandar Hemon, Salman Rushdie, Father Patrick Desbois, Diane Ackerman, Maira Kalman, Roz Chast, Susan Griffin, Eva Hoffman, Adam Zagajewski, Maxine Hong Kingston, Michael Ondaatje, and others. (you can find podcasts on itunes, type in Los Angeles Public Library.) Louise is also co-director of the Los Angeles Institute of the Humanities at USC. She was Senior Creative Advisor for the Sundance Institute Arts Writing Program and is a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Ms. Steinman was a 2013 and 2015 resident artist at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island, Florida, where she wrote "On an Island: Doing Rauschenberg Time."

She lives in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles on a north-facing slope with her husband, sculptor Lloyd Hamrol, two persnickety cats—Oona and Fredo, and a lot of tomato plants.

"Louise Steinman's story is heroic in all the old senses of the word: a journey of a literal sort; a journey into the terrible past; and a journey into her own soul. Unblinking, scrupulous and enduring." --Alexandra Fuller, author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight
"...a book that will appeal to a wide audience of readers who care about history, genealogy, and the possibility of peace between estranged peoples." - Jonathan Kirsch, author of The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan

"Partly a detective story, partly a meditation on the legacy of war...this is a bold, unusual and moving book." - Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars

"In the territory Steinman explores—risk, play, improvisation, the dual image of the performer and persona—her fine prose builds firmly, gracefully and movingly to what she considers the basic, too often unacknowledged function of the performer as storyteller: 'to remind us of our mortality.'" —Deborah Jowitt


Nov 7, 2013 ALOUD conversation with Jack Miles, Los Angeles Public Library