Susan Orlean

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Susan Orlean
Susan orlean 2011.jpg
Susan Orlean at the 2011 Texas Book Festival.
Born Susan Orlean
(1955-10-31) October 31, 1955 (age 59)
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Occupation Author, Journalist
Nationality American
Education University of Michigan
Spouse Peter Sistrom (1983–?)
John William Gillespie, Jr. (2001–)[1]

Susan Orlean (born October 31, 1955) is an American journalist. She has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1992, and has contributed articles to Vogue, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Outside.

Life and career[edit]

Orlean is the author of several books, including The Orchid Thief, a profile of Florida orchid grower, breeder and collector John Laroche. The book formed the basis of Charlie Kaufman's script for the Spike Jonze film Adaptation. Orlean (portrayed by Meryl Streep in an Golden Globe-winning role) was, in effect, made into a fictional character; the movie portrayed her as becoming Laroche's lover and partner in a drug production operation, in which orchids were processed into a psychoactive substance.

She also wrote the Women's Outside article, "Life's Swell" (published 1998). The article, a feature on a group of young surfer girls in Maui, was the basis of the film Blue Crush.

In 1999, she co-wrote "The Skinny: What Every Skinny Woman Knows About Dieting (And Won't Tell You!)" under her married name, Susan Sistrom. Her previously published magazine stories have been compiled in two collections, The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People and My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere. She also served as editor for Best American Essays 2005 and Best American Travel Writing 2007. She contributed the Ohio chapter in State By State (2008). She recently published a biographical history about the dog actor Rin Tin Tin. She discussed the book on The Colbert Report on November 17, 2011.

Orlean was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from the University of Michigan. She was then a staff writer at the Portland, Oregon, weekly Willamette Week, and soon began publishing stories in Rolling Stone, Esquire, Vogue, Outside and Spy. In 1982, she moved to Boston and became a staff writer for the Boston Phoenix and later a regular contributor to the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. Her first book, Saturday Night, was published in 1990, shortly after she moved to New York and began writing for The New Yorker magazine. She became a New Yorker staff writer in 1992. Orlean was also a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2003. Orlean received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Michigan at the spring commencement ceremony in 2012.




  • Orlean, Susan (28 September 2009). "Popular Chronicles: The It Bird". The New Yorker 85 (30): 26–31. 
  • Orlean, Susan (1998). "Life's Swell". Women's Outside. 
  • Orlean, Susan (December 1992). "The American Male at Age Ten". Esquire. 


  • Animalish (Kindle Single) (2011)


External links[edit]