Al Pessin’s forthcoming first novel, the thriller SANDBLAST, finished top-five in the Unpublished Book of the Year competition at the 2018 Royal Palm Literary Awards presented by the Florida Writers Association. It was also shortlisted for the 2017 Bosque Fiction Award. Al’s short, short story, JIMMY’S HOUR was also a 2018 RPLA finalist. And his two-act play, a farce called MURDER AT THE BUTCHER’S, will be produced by a professional theater company in South Florida in the 2019/20 season.
Before turning to creative writing, Al spent 15 years as a foreign correspondent, posted in Hong Kong, Islamabad, Beijing, Jerusalem and London, and another 12 years covering the White House, the Pentagon and New York City – all part of his long career as a reporter, editor and manager at the Voice of America. His most recent assignments had him reporting from the war zones in Iraq, Afghanistan and Eastern Ukraine, while previous decades saw him in Gaza, the West Bank, Eastern Turkey, the Philippines and Southeast Asian refugee camps.
Al’s fifteen minutes of fame came when he was expelled from China in 1989 after the Tiananmen Massacre. The Chinese government described his coverage as “illegal news gathering” that was “fomenting counter-revolutionary rebellion.” That year, Al received the Communicator of the Year Award from the National Association of Government Communicators and won a Gold Medal at the International Radio Festivals of New York.
In the 2000s, Al spent five years as an adjunct instructor at his alma mater, Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, teaching mainly about national security reporting. He has also spoken at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Virginia.
In 2016, Al had a humor piece about the presidential election campaign published on politico.com. In recent years, he has also been published in the Los Angeles Times, thehill.com and DefenseOne.com. Earlier in his career, he had long-form articles in The Quill, The Gannett Center Journal, and the Northwestern Alumni Magazine
Al has plans for a sequel to SANDBLAST, and is currently working on his second novel BODY MAN, a political thriller.
Awards and Recognition
- SANDBLAST, 2018 Royal Palm Literary Awards, Unpublished Book of the Year (All-Genres), Fifth Place.
- SANDBLAST, 2017, Bosque Fiction Award, Short List Selection.