A staff writer for the New Yorker since 1986, Adam Gopnik was born in Philadelphia and raised in Montreal. He received his BA. in Art History from McGill University, before completing his graduate work at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. His first essay in The New Yorker, "Quattrocento Baseball" appeared in May of 1986 and he served as the magazine’s art critic from 1987 to 1995. That year, he left New York to live and write in Paris, where he wrote the magazine’s “Paris Journal” for the next five years. His expanded collection of his essays from Paris, Paris To the Moon, appeared in 2000, and was called by the New York Times “the finest book on France in recent years.” While in Paris, he began work on an adventure novel, The King In The Window, which was published in 2005, and which the Journal of Fantasy & Science Fiction called “a spectacularly fine children’s novel…children’s literature of the highest order, which means literature of the highest order.” He still often writes from Paris for the New Yorker, has edited the anthology Americans In Paris for the Library of America, and has written a number of introductions to new editions of works by Maupassant, Balzac, Proust, Victor Hugo and Alain-Fournier.
His 2006 book, Through The Children’s Gate: A Home In New York collected and expanded his essays from the previous five years about life in New York and about raising two children in the shadow of many kinds of sadness. It includes the much-anthologized essays “Bumping Into Mr. Ravioli,” about his daughter Olivia’s imaginary friend, who is always too busy to play with her, and “Last of the Metrozoids,” about the life and last year of Kirk Varnedoe. In 2009, Gopnik completed Angels And Ages: A Short Book About Lincoln, Darwin And Modern Life, which became a national best-seller and which the Telegraph in London called “the essay every essayist would like to have written.” Shortly after, in 2010, Gopnik published another children’s novel, The Steps Across the Water, which chronicles the adventures of a young girl, Rose, in U Nork.
In2011, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation asked Gopnik to deliver the fiftieth anniversary Massey Lectures, broadcast every year throughout Canada. His Massey Lectures, called Winter: Five Windows on the Season, were published that same fall -- as was his collection of essays on cooking and eating, The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food.
In addition to his work as a writer, Adam has been an active lecturer. He has given lectures and readings in almost every major American city, and some smaller ones, too, from Jackson, Mississippi to Seattle, Washington. In addition to the Massey series, his more formal and extended lectures have included the New York Public Library/Oxford University Press lectures in New York; the Phillips Lecture in Washington and the Whitney Lecture in New York, and the Shapiro Lectures at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. In 2006, he also hosted and presented an hour-long film about New York, “Lighting Up New York,” for the BBC in London.
In the past five years, Gopnik has engaged in many musical projects, working both as a lyricist and libretto writer. With the composer David Shire he has written both book and lyrics for the musical comedy TABLE, to be produced in 2016 by the Long Wharf theater under the direction of Gordon Edelstein. He wrote the libretto for Nico Muhly’s oratorio “Sentences”, which premiered in London at the Barbican in June of 2015. Other projects include collaborating on a one-woman show for the soprano Melissa Errico, “Sing The Silence”, which debuted in November of 2015 at the Public Theater in New York, and included new songs co-written with David Shire, Scott Frankel, and Peter Mills. Future projects include a new musical with Scott Frankel.
He has won the National Magazine Award for Essays and for Criticism three times, as well as the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting, and the Canadian National Magazine Award Gold Medal for arts writing. His work has been anthologized many times, in “Best American Essays", “Best American Travel Writing,” “Best American Sports Writing,” “Best American Food Writing,” and “Best American Spiritual Writing.” In March of 2013, Gopnik was awarded the medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Republic. Two months later, he received an honoris causa from McGill University. He lives in New York with his wife, filmmaker Martha Parker, and their two children, Luke Auden and Olivia Esme Claire.