Carl Hiaasen

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Carl Hiaasen
Carl Hiaasen at the 2016 National Book Festival
Carl Hiaasen at the 2016 National Book Festival
Born (1953-03-12) March 12, 1953 (age 67)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
OccupationAuthor and journalist
GenreCrime fiction, thrillers, satirical fiction
SubjectEnvironmentalism, political corruption, fraudsters, Florida
SpouseFenia Clizer (1999–2019)
Connie Lyford (1970–1996)
RelativesRob Hiaasen (brother)

Carl Hiaasen (/ˈh.əsɛn/; born March 12, 1953) is an American journalist and novelist. A long-time columnist for the Miami Herald and Tribune Content Agency,[1] he began his career as a news reporter and by the late 1970s had begun writing novels in his spare time, both for adults and for young-adult readers. Two of his novels have been made into feature films.

Hiaasen's adult novels are humorous crime thrillers set in Florida. They feature casts of eccentric, sometimes grotesque, characters and satirize aspects of American popular culture. Many of the novels include themes related to environmentalism and political corruption in his native state.

Early life and education[edit]

Hiaasen was born in 1953 and raised in Plantation, Florida, then a rural suburb of Fort Lauderdale. He was the first of four children born to Odel and Patricia Hiaasen. He has Norwegian and Irish ancestry. He started writing at age six when his father bought him a typewriter for Christmas [2] After graduating from Plantation High School in 1970,[citation needed] he entered Emory University, where he contributed satirical humor columns to the student-run newspaper The Emory Wheel.[3] In 1972, he transferred to the University of Florida, where he wrote for The Independent Florida Alligator. Hiaasen graduated in 1974 with a degree in journalism.


He was a reporter at TODAY (Cocoa, Florida) for two years before being hired in 1976 by the Miami Herald, where he worked for the city desk, Sunday magazine and award-winning investigative team. Since 1985 Hiaasen has been a regular columnist for the newspaper. His columns have been collected in three published volumes, Kick Ass (1999), Paradise Screwed (2001) and Dance of the Reptiles (2014), all edited by Diane Stevenson.

His only brother Rob Hiaasen, an editor and columnist at The Capital newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, was killed in a mass shooting at the newspaper's office on June 28, 2018.[4] Carl Hiaasen's 1991 novel Native Tongue bears the dedication "For my brother Rob."


After becoming a reporter, Hiaasen began writing novels in his spare time. The first three were co-authored with his friend and fellow journalist William Montalbano: Powder Burn (1981), Trap Line (1982), and A Death in China (1984). His first solo novel, Tourist Season (1986), featured a group of ragged eco-warriors who kidnap the Orange Bowl Queen in Miami. The book's main character was whimsically memorialized by Jimmy Buffett in a song called "The Ballad of Skip Wiley," which appeared on his Barometer Soup album.

In all, twenty of Hiaasen's novels and nonfiction books have been on the New York Times Best Seller lists. His work has been translated into 34 languages.

His first venture into writing for younger readers was the 2002 novel Hoot, which was named a Newbery Medal honor book. It was adapted as a 2006 film of the same name (starring Logan Lerman, Brie Larson and Luke Wilson). The movie was written and directed by Wil Shriner. Jimmy Buffett provided songs for the soundtrack, and appeared in the role of Mr. Ryan, a middle school teacher.

Hiaasen's subsequent children's novels were Flush, Scat; Chomp and, Skink-- No Surrender, which introduces one of his most popular adult characters to teen readers. In 2014, Skink was long-listed for a National Book Award in Young People's Literature. All of Hiaasen's books for young readers feature environmental themes, eccentric casts and adventure-filled plots. His newest, Squirm, which is set in Florida and Montana, was published in the fall of 2018 and opened at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list for middle-grade novels.

His previous novel for adults, Razor Girl, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in September 2016, and opened at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list. In England it was short-listed for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse award for comic fiction.

His latest adult book, Squeeze Me, was published on August 25, 2020 and debuted at #2 on the New York Times Combined Print and E-Book Print Best Sellers List. The novel takes place during the glitzy Palm Beach social season, and features wild pythons and a fictional, well-fed U.S. president who has a vacation mansion on the island.

Hiaasen's most recent nonfiction work is Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You'll Never Hear, which was published in April 2018 and illustrated by Roz Chast, who is well-known for her cartoons in the New Yorker magazine.

During the 1990s Hiaasen co-wrote the lyrics of three songs with his good friend and famed L.A. rocker, the late Warren Zevon. "Rottweiler Blues" and "Seminole Bingo" appeared on Zevon's Mutineer album in 1995. The third song they wrote together, "Basket Case," was done in conjunction with Hiaasen's novel of the same name, and appeared in 2001 on Zevon's album My Ride's Here.



Adult fiction[edit]

With William Montalbano

  • Powder Burn (1981)
  • Trap Line (1982)
  • A Death in China (1984)

Fiction for young readers[edit]

Short stories[edit]


  • Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You'll Never Hear (2018)
  • Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World (1998)
  • Kick Ass: Selected Columns (1999)
  • Paradise Screwed: Selected Columns (2001)
  • The Downhill Lie (2008)
  • Dance of the Reptiles: Selected Columns (2014)


Awards and achievements[edit]

  • 1980: National Headliners Award from Sigma Delta Chi.[7]
  • 1980: Heywood Broun Award from Newspaper Guild.[8]
  • 2004 : Damon Runyon Award from the Denver Press Club.
  • 2010 : Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.[9]
  • 2003 : Newbery Honor from the Association for Library Service to Children, for Hoot.
  • 2005 : Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award, for Hoot.
  • 2005 : Dagger Awards Nominee - Best Novel, for Skinny Dip.
  • 2009 : Sélection prix Nouvel Obs et BibliObs du roman noir, for Croco-deal (Nature Girl).
  • 2011 : Prix du Livre Environnement de la Fondation Veolia Environnement - Mention jeunesse, for Panthère (Scat).
  • 2011 : Prix Enfantaisie du meilleur roman, for Panthère (Scat).
  • 2012 : Prix Barnes & Noble du meilleur roman jeunesse, for Chomp.
  • 2013 : Prix Science en toutes lettres from The Académie de Rouen, for Panthère (Scat).
  • 2014 : National Book Award Longlist Selection - Young People's Literature, for Skink : No Surrender.
  • 2017 : Marjorie Harris Carr Award for Environmental Advocacy from the Florida Defenders of the Environment


  1. ^ "Carl Hiaasen articles". Tribune Content Agency. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Biography: Carl Hiaasen". Scholastic. c. 2013. Retrieved March 17, 2013.
  3. ^ Parvin, Paige. "We Knew Them When". Emory Magazine. Emory University (Winter 2013). Retrieved March 17, 2013.
  4. ^ Alanez, Tonya. "South Florida's Rob Hiaasen, novelist Carl Hiaasen's brother, killed in newsroom shooting". Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Biography". Carl Hiaasen's Official Website. Archived from the original on 2008-10-11. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
  6. ^ Carl Hiaasen (2003-02-18). "A crazed photographer has kidnapped a beautiful model and - 02.18.03 - SI Vault". Archived from the original on 2009-03-04. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  7. ^ Carl Hiaasen. Detroit: Contemporary Authors Online. 2014 – via Biography in Context.
  8. ^ . Ed. Dave Mote. "Carl Hiaasen". Contemporary Popular Writers. St. James Press. 1997.CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ Fresh Air with Terry Gross, June 13, 2013: Interview with Carl Hiaasen; Review of Slaid Cleaves' album "Still Fighting the War"; Obituary for Yoram Kaniuk. National Public Radio (U.S.) WHYY, Inc. June 13, 2013. OCLC 957238691. Scroll down to 'View online' to hear the audio of the interview.

External links[edit]