Adam Gopnik

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Adam Gopnik
Born August 24, 1956
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation Writer, essayist, commentator
Nationality Canadian American
Period 1986–present
Spouse Martha Parker
Children Luke Gopnik
Olivia Gopnik

Adam Gopnik (born August 24, 1956) is a Canadian American writer, essayist and commentator. He is best known as a staff writer for The New Yorker—to which he has contributed non-fiction, fiction, memoir and criticism since 1986[1]—and as the author of the essay collection Paris to the Moon, an account of five years that Gopnik, his wife Martha, and son Luke spent in the French capital.


Early years[edit]

Gopnik was born in Philadelphia and lived in Montreal. His Jewish parents, Irwin and Myrna Gopnik, were professors at McGill University, and the family lived at Habitat 67.[2]

Gopnik studied at Dawson College and then McGill, from which Gopnik graduated with a BA. While there, he was a contributor for The McGill Daily. He completed graduate work at the New York University Institute of Fine Arts.[3] In 1986, Gopnik began his long professional association with The New Yorker with a piece that would show his future range, a consideration of connections among baseball, childhood, and Renaissance art. He has written for four editors at the magazine: William Shawn, Robert Gottlieb, Tina Brown, and David Remnick.

Interest in arts[edit]

Gopnik studied art history and with his friend Kirk Varnedoe curated the famous 1990 High/Low show at New York's Museum of Modern Art. He later wrote an article for Search Magazine on the connection between religion and art and the compatibility of Christianity and Darwinism. He states in the article that the arts of human history are products of religious thought and that human conduct is not guaranteed by religion or secularism.[4]

Paris and "Paris Journal"[edit]

In 1995, The New Yorker dispatched him to Paris to write the "Paris Journals", in which he described life in that city. These essays were later collected and published by Random House in Paris to the Moon,[5] after Gopnik returned to New York City in 2000. The book became a New York Times bestseller.

The New Yorker[edit]

Gopnik has contributed fiction, humor, book reviews, profiles, and internationally reported pieces to the magazine. After writing his first piece for the magazine in 1986, Gopnik became the magazine's art critic. He worked in this position from 1987 to 1995, after which he became the magazine's Paris correspondent. After five years in the French capital, Gopnik returned to New York to write a journal on life in the city.[6] Gopnik continues to contribute to The New Yorker as a staff writer. In recent years, he wrote extensively about gun control and gun violence in the United States.[7][8]

Personal life[edit]

Gopnik lives in New York with his wife, Martha Parker, and two children, Luke and Olivia. His five siblings include Blake Gopnik, the art critic for The Daily Beast, and Alison Gopnik, a child psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley (author of The Scientist in the Crib, UK title: How Babies Think).


In addition to 2000's Paris to the Moon, Random House also published the author's reflections on life in New York, and particularly on the comedy of parenting, Through the Children's Gate, in 2006. (As in the earlier memoir, much of the material had appeared previously in The New Yorker.) In 2005 Hyperion Books published his children's novel The King in the Window, about Oliver, an American boy living in Paris, who is mistaken for a mystical king and stumbles upon an ancient battle waged between Window Wraiths and the malicious Master of Mirrors.

A book on Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin, called Angels And Ages, was published in January 2009. In 2010 Hyperion Books published his children's fantasy novel The Steps Across the Water, which chronicles the adventures of a young girl, Rose, finding in the mystical city of U Nork. In 2011 Gopnik was chosen as the noted speaker for the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Massey Lectures, where he delivered five lectures across five Canadian cities on his book Winter: Five Windows on the Season. His most recent book (2011) is The Table Comes First, about food, cooking and restaurants.

Musical Theatre[edit]

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.[9] He wrote the libretto for Nico Muhly’s oratorio “Sentences”, which premiered in London at the Barbican in June of 2015.[10] Other projects include collaborating on a one-woman show for the soprano Melissa Errico, “Sing The Silence”, which debuted in November 2015 at the Public Theater in New York, and included new songs co-written with David Shire, Scott Frankel, and Peter Mills.[11] Future projects include a new musical with Scott Frankel.[citation needed]

Honors and appearances[edit]

A frequent guest on Charlie Rose, Gopnik has been honored with three National Magazine Awards for Essay and Criticism, and a George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. His entry on the culture of the United States is featured in the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Gopnik also participates as a member of the Jury for the NYICFF, a local New York City Film Festival dedicated to screening films for children between the ages of 3 and 18.[12]

Gopnik recently wrote and presented BBC Four's Lighting Up New York, a cultural journey through the recent history of New York. He is a regular contributor to the BBC Radio 4 weekly talk series A Point of View.[13]



  1. ^ "Contributors: Adam Gopnik". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 27, 2015. 
  2. ^ Daniel Baird. "The Observer, Observed." The Walrus. November 2011.
  3. ^ Biography – Adam Gopnik
  4. ^
  5. ^ de Botton, Alain (October 22, 2000). "There's There There". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ "Contributors: Adam Gopnik". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 27, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Roanoke and the Value of Guns". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2015-10-11. 
  8. ^ "The Second Amendment Is a Gun-Control Amendment". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2015-10-11. 
  9. ^ "Melissa Errico and Graham Rowat to Headline Workshop of Gopnick and Shire's TABLE". Retrieved 2015-11-20. 
  10. ^ "Nico Muhly Sentences". Retrieved 2015-11-20. 
  11. ^ "Melissa Errico: Sing The Silence (include subtitle where possible: Songs of Women’s Secret Lives co-written by Adam Gopnik)". Retrieved 2015-11-20. 
  12. ^ NYICFF Jury
  13. ^ "A Point of View: What's the secret of writing great song lyrics? - BBC News". BBC News (in en-GB). Retrieved 2015-11-20. 

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