Dani Shapiro

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Dani Shapiro
Shapiro at the 2018 Texas Book Festival
Shapiro at the 2018 Texas Book Festival
BornDaneile Shapiro
(1962-04-10) April 10, 1962 (age 58)
New York City, United States
SpouseMichael Maren

Dani Shapiro is an American writer, the author of five novels including Family History (2003) and Black & White (2007) and the best-selling memoirs Slow Motion (1998), Devotion (2010), Hourglass (2017), and Inheritance (2019).[1] She has also written for magazines such as The New Yorker, The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, and Elle.[2] In February 2019, she created an original podcast on iHeart Radio called Family Secrets.[3] In April 2020, she launched her second original podcast on the same platforms called The Way We Live Now, which includes daily episodes rather than the weekly format of Family Secrets.[4] The new podcast addresses the societal and personal changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic stay-at-home orders and their subsequent isolation.

Early life and education[edit]

Shapiro was born Daneile Shapiro[5] on April 10, 1962 In New York City.[6] She is the daughter of Paul Shapiro, from an Orthodox Jewish family (who, she later learned through a recreational DNA test, was not her biological father[7]), and Irene Shapiro, from South Jersey. Shapiro attended a Solomon Schechter Jewish day school through 6th grade, after which she attended the Pingry School in New Jersey.[8] She attended Sarah Lawrence College, where she was taught by Grace Paley.[9]



Shapiro's novels include Playing with Fire, Fugitive Blue, Picturing the Wreck, Black & White, and Family History. Her best-selling memoirs include Slow Motion, Devotion, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, and most recently, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love.[10]

In Inheritance, Shapiro writes about her experience of learning through a recreational DNA test that her biological father was not Paul Shapiro; rather, she had been conceived by the primitive practice of mixing Paul's sperm with that of an anonymous donor, whom she later was able to identify.[11] Inheritance debuted at #11 on the New York Times Best Seller list[12] and Ruth Franklin called it "beautifully written and deeply moving."[13] The San Francisco Chronicle described Inheritance as "as compulsively readable as a mystery novel, while exploring the deeper mysteries of identity and family and truth itself… a story told with great insight and honesty and heart."[14] And Pulitzer Prize winning author Jennifer Egan wrote that “Inheritance is Dani Shapiro at her best: a gripping genetic detective story, and a meditation on the meaning of parenthood and family.” The memoir was included on several best-of-the-year lists, including that of Vanity Fair,[15] Oprah Magazine,[16] Lit Hub[17] and Wired.[18]

In addition to The New Yorker,[19] The Oprah Magazine,[20] Vogue,[21] and Elle[22], Shapiro's writing has also appeared in Salon,[23] and n+1,[24] among others. Shapiro has also written for the screen; in 1999, she adapted Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince for HBO and in 2000, she co-wrote a screenplay based on her memoir, Slow Motion, with her husband, journalist and screenwriter Michael Maren.[25]


Dani has taught writing classes and workshops at NYU, Wesleyan University and Columbia University[26] as well Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health,[27] 1440 Multiversity,[28] and Fine Arts Work Center.[29] On March 31, 2020, she launched her first digital course, "Writing for Inner Calm: Methods & Exercises", on the Skillshare online learning platform.[30]

She also co-founded Sirenland Writers Conference[31] which takes place annually in Positano, Italy.


In collaboration with iHeart Radio, Shapiro launched the original podcast Family Secrets in 2019. Each episode of this iTunes Top 10 podcast features a conversation between Dani and a guest who's experienced a family secret and its effects.[32] The podcast’s third season premiered on February 6, 2020.[33]

Her second podcast with iHeart Radio, The Way We Live Now, launched in April 2020; the podcast examines the way people from all walks of life are coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Shapiro has been married since 1997 to screenwriter Michael Maren,[35] and they have a son, Jacob.[36] In the early 2000s, Dani and her family moved from Brooklyn, NY to Litchfield County, Connecticut.[37]


  • Playing with Fire Doubleday Publishing Group, 1990, ISBN 9780385267229
  • Fugitive Blue Nan A. Talese, 1992, ISBN 978-0385421072
  • Picturing the Wreck Doubleday, 1995, ISBN 978-0385472630
  • Slow Motion: A True Story Random House, 1998 ISBN 978-0-307-82800-2
  • Family History: A Novel Knopf, 2004 ISBN 978-0-307-42585-0
  • Black & White Knopf, 2007 ISBN 978-1-4000-3212-9
  • Devotion: A Memoir Harper, 2010 ISBN 978-0-06-162834-4
  • Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013 ISBN 978-0-8021-9343-8
  • Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage Knopf, 2017 ISBN 978-0-4514-9448-1
  • Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love Knopf, 2019 ISBN 978-1524732714

Appearances (selected)[edit]


  • 2019: National Jewish Book Award winner in the Autobiography and Memoir category for Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love [42]
  • 2019: Inheritance named a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Award in the Memoir category [43]
  • 2020: Inheritance named a finalist for the Wingate Prize for a non-fiction book "to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader."[44]


  1. ^ "Contact & Bio". Dani Shapiro. 2013-08-26. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
  2. ^ "Barnes & Noble Interview & Writer Details". Archived from the original on March 19, 2008. Retrieved Feb 28, 2019.
  3. ^ "Podcast Spotlight: Nothing Stays Hidden For Long on "Family Secrets" | iHeartRadio Blog". blog.iheart.com. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
  4. ^ "The Way We Live Now: Introducing: The Way We Live Now on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved 2020-04-14.
  5. ^ Shapiro, Dani (1019). Inheritance. Knopf. p. 228. ISBN 1524732710.
  6. ^ Maran, Meredith (2016). Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature. Plume. ISBN 0142181978.
  7. ^ April 6, CBS News; 2019; Pm, 1:51. "Author Dani Shapiro discovers her dad isn't her biological father after DNA test". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 2020-03-31.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Mindell, Cindy. "Q & A: Author Dani Shapiro", Jewish Ledger, January 12, 2011. Accessed February 11, 2011.
  9. ^ "Dani Shapiro | Inspiring People | Living Louder | DanaRoc.com". www.danaroc.com. Retrieved Feb 28, 2019.
  10. ^ "Books by Dani Shapiro (Author of Inheritance)". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  11. ^ Ridley, Jane (Jan 12, 2019). "I'm the result of a secret sperm concoction". Retrieved Feb 28, 2019.
  12. ^ "Hardcover Nonfiction Books - Best Sellers - Feb. 3, 2019 - The New York Times". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  13. ^ Franklin, Ruth (2019-01-15). "March's Book Club Pick: Dani Shapiro's New Memoir Uncovers a Life-Changing Family Secret". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  14. ^ Br, Gayle; eisFebruary 5; February 18, 2019Updated:; 2019; Pm, 4:55. "True blood: A review of 'Inheritance,' a memoir by Dani Shapiro". Datebook | San Francisco Arts & Entertainment Guide. Retrieved 2020-04-02.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Fair, Vanity. "The Best Books of 2019, So Far". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  16. ^ "Calling It Now: Everyone Will Talk About These 4 Books All Year Long". Oprah Magazine. 2019-01-07. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  17. ^ "Lit Hub's Most Anticipated Books of 2019". Literary Hub. 2018-12-28. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  18. ^ "12 Science Books You Should Read Right Now". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  19. ^ "Dani Shapiro". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  20. ^ "What Nobody Tells You About Painful Regrets". Oprah.com. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  21. ^ "Dani Shapiro". Vogue. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  22. ^ "Dani Shapiro". ELLE. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  23. ^ "Dani Shapiro | Salon.com". www.salon.com. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  24. ^ "Shapiro/Dani". n+1. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  25. ^ "Dani Shapiro". IMDb. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  26. ^ Shapiro, Dani (June 15, 2011). "#amwriting". NPlusOne. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  27. ^ "The Stories We Carry Meditation and Writing". Kripalu. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  28. ^ "The Stories We Carry - 1440 Multiversity". www.1440.org. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  29. ^ FAWC-Admin (2020-01-09). "Transforming Chaos into Art: A Workshop in Fiction & Memoir". FINE ARTS WORK CENTER in Provincetown. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  30. ^ "Writing for Inner Calm: A Mindset, Methods, and Daily Exercises for All | Dani Shapiro". Skillshare. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  31. ^ Barberich, Christene. "Dani Shapiro On How Writing Saved Her Life — & How It Can Save Yours". www.refinery29.com. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  32. ^ "The Family Secrets Podcast", Severance Magazine, September 2, 2019
  33. ^ “Family Secrets Podcast Season 3”, iHeartRadio.com, February 2020
  34. ^ "Dani Shapiro's New Daily Podcast "The Way We Live Now" Will Keep You Company While Practicing Social Distancing | iHeartRadio Blog". blog.iheart.com. Retrieved 2020-04-14.
  35. ^ Weddings: "Dani Shapiro, Michael P Maren", The New York Times, June 8, 1997.
  36. ^ May 9; 2017. "Dani Shapiro's 'Hourglass' Explores A Marriage Over TimeLitchfield County resident and bestselling memoirist Dani Shapiro discusses her latest book, Hourglass". www.ruralintelligence.com. Retrieved 2020-04-03.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  37. ^ Shaw, Dan (2013-10-24). "Dani Shapiro's Provident Move to the Country". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  38. ^ "Dani Shapiro Archives". SuperSoul.tv. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  39. ^ Dani Shapiro Opens Up About DNA Shocker That Changed Her Life | TODAY, retrieved 2020-04-06
  40. ^ April 6, CBS News; 2019; Pm, 1:51. "Author Dani Shapiro discovers her dad isn't her biological father after DNA test". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 2020-04-06.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  41. ^ "'Inheritance' author Dani Shapiro answers your questions". PBS NewsHour. 2020-03-31. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  42. ^ "Past Winners". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
  43. ^ "Announcing the Goodreads Choice Winner in Best Memoir & Autobiography!". Goodreads. Retrieved 2020-05-03.
  44. ^ "Grant, Shapiro and Jacobson make Wingate Prize longlist | The Bookseller". www.thebookseller.com. Retrieved 2020-05-03.

External links[edit]