Daniel Mendelsohn introducing Robert B. Silvers at the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Awards Ceremony
Daniel Adam Mendelsohn|
1960 (age 57–58)
Long Island, New York, U.S.A.
|Occupation||Author, essayist, critic, columnist, translator|
|Genre||Criticism, Non-fiction, memoir|
|Subject||Holocaust, Judaism, classics, Cavafy, literature, film, theater, television|
Life and career
Mendelsohn was born on Long Island and raised in the town of Old Bethpage, New York. He attended the University of Virginia from 1978 to 1982 as an Echols Scholar, graduating with a B.A. summa cum laude in Classics. From 1982 to 1985, he resided in New York City, working as an assistant to an opera impresario, Joseph A. Scuro. The following year he began graduate studies at Princeton University, receiving his M.A. in 1989 and his Ph.D. in 1994. His dissertation, later published as a scholarly monograph by Oxford University Press, was on Euripidean tragedy.
Mendelsohn began contributing reviews, op-eds, and essays to such publications as QW, Out, The New York Times, The Nation, and The Village Voice while still a graduate student; after completing his Ph.D., he moved to New York City and began writing full-time. Since then his review-essays on books, films, theater and television have appeared frequently in a number of major publications, most often in The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. Others include The New York Times Magazine, Travel + Leisure, Newsweek, Esquire, The Paris Review, The New Republic, and Harpers magazine, where he was a culture columnist. Between 2000 and 2002 he was the weekly book critic for New York Magazine, and between 1996 and 2006 his reviews appeared frequently in The New York Times Book Review, where, from 2013 to 2014, he was also a columnist for the "Bookends" page.
Mendelsohn has been the recipient of numerous prizes and honors both in the United States and abroad. Apart from awards for individual books, these include the American Academy of Arts and Letters Harold D. Vursell Memorial Prize for Prose Style (2014); the American Philological Association President's Award for service to the Classics (2014); the George Jean Nathan Prize for Drama Criticism (2002); and the National Book Critics Circle Award Citation for Excellence in Book Reviewing (2000).
Mendelsohn's academic speciality was Greek (especially Euripidean) tragedy; he also published scholarly articles about Roman poetry and Greek religion. From 1994 to 2002, he was a part-time Lecturer in the Classics department at Princeton University. Currently, he holds the Charles Ranlett Flint Chair in Humanities at Bard College, where he teaches one course each semester on literary subjects. In April 2008, he was the Richard Holbrooke Distinguished Visitor at the American Academy in Berlin, Germany. In the Spring of 2010, he was a Critic-in-Residence at the American Academy in Rome, and in April 2014 was a visiting writer at the Ca' Foscari University of Venice.
Awards and honors
- 2018 Princeton University James Madison Medal 
- 2017 Prix Transfuge for Une odyssée (French translation of An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic)
- 2017 Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize (United Kingdom) for An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic
- 2014 American Academy of Arts and Letters Harold D. Vursell Memorial Prize for Prose Style
- 2013 runner-up for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
- 2012 Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for Waiting for the Barbarians
- 2009 Criticos Prize (shortlisted) for C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems
- 2008 Elected to the American Philosophical Society
- 2007 Prix Médicis Étranger for Les Disparus (French translation of The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million)
- 2007 Premio ADEI-WIZO for Gli Scomparsi (Italian translation of The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million)
- 2007 Duff Cooper Prize (shortlisted) for The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
- 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award winner, Memoir/Autobiography, for The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
- 2006 National Jewish Book Award for The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
- 2006 Salon Book Award for The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
- 2006 Barnes & Noble "Discover" Prize, 2nd place, for The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
- 2006 American Library Association Sophie Brody Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Jewish Literature, for The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
- 2005 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for a translation of Cavafy's "Unfinished" poems, with commentary.
- 2002 George Jean Nathan Prize for Drama Criticism
- 2000 National Book Critics Circle Award Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Book Reviewing
- The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity, a memoir entwining themes of gay identity, family history, and Classical myth and literature, was published in 1999 by Alfred A. Knopf, and was named a The New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. It was published in a French translation as L'étreinte fugitive by Flammarion in January, 2009.
- Gender and the City in Euripides' Political Plays, a scholarly study of Greek tragedy, published by Oxford University Press in 2002, with a paperback edition published in 2005.
- The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million (2006), the story of the author's worldwide search over five years to learn about the fates of relatives who perished in the Holocaust. After the book's publication in a bestselling French translation, in 2007, film rights were optioned by director Jean-Luc Godard.
- How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken, a collection of essays on literature and the arts, mostly from The New York Review of Books, was published in August, 2008 and named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2008.
- C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems and C. P. Cavafy: The Unfinished Poems, published simultaneously in March 2009. Mendelsohn's Cavafy translation was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2009, and was shortlisted for the Criticos Prize (UK). The two-volume hardcover edition was published as a single-volume paperback by Vintage Books in May 2012; a selection was published in the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets series in 2014.
- Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture, a second collection of essays, covering movies, theater, opera, poetry, fiction, and memoir, mostly from The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books, was published by New York Review Books in October, 2012, with a paperback publication in 2014.
- An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic, a memoir intertwining a personal narrative about the author's late father, Jay, a retired research scientist who decided to enroll in his son's Spring, 2011 Odyssey seminar at Bard College, with reflections on the text of Homer's Odyssey and its theme of father-son relationships, education, and identity. The book, the third in which the author combines memoir and literary criticism, was published by Knopf in September 2017 to acclaim in the U.S., France, and Norway.
- Mendelsohn, Daniel (1999). The elusive embrace : desire and the riddle of identity. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- — (2002). Gender and the city in Euripides' political plays. Oxford University Press.
- The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, HarperCollins, 2006.
- How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken, HarperCollins, 2008.
- C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems and C. P. Cavafy: The Unfinished Poems, Knopf, 2009.
- Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture, New York Review Books, 2012.
- An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic, Knopf, 2017.
Essays and reporting
- Mendelsohn, Daniel (November 7, 2011). "Battle lines : a slimmer, faster Iliad". The Critics: Books. The New Yorker. 87 (35): 76–81.
- — (April 16, 2012). "Unsinkable". Popular Chronicles. The New Yorker. 88 (9): 64–72.
- — (January 7, 2013). "The American boy". Personal History. The New Yorker. 88 (42): 48–61.
- — (April 14, 2014). "Deep frieze : what does the Parthenon mean?". The Ancient World. The New Yorker. 90 (8): 34–39.
- — (July 27, 2015). "The right poem". The Talk of the Town. Block that Metaphor!. The New Yorker. 91 (21): 18–19.
- — (April 24, 2017). "An Odyssey". Personal History. The New Yorker. 93 (10): 54–65.
- Astri von Arbin Ahlander (2011-06-27). “Interview with Daniel Mendelsohn”. The Days of Yore. http://www.thedaysofyore.com/daniel-mendelsohn/ Retrieved 2012-01-19
- Scott Foundas (2010-01-21). "3 Backyards: Secrets and Insides - Page 2 - Film+TV - Los Angeles". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
Mendelsohn was born in 1964 in Old Bethpage, Long Island, the fourth of five children of a scientist father (who designed target-recognition technology for F14 aircraft at Grumman Aerospace) and teacher mother. His siblings include a photographer, a physicist, journalist Jennifer Mendelsohn and critic and author Daniel Mendelsohn, whose best-selling, Holocaust-themed memoir, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, is currently being developed as a film by Jean-Luc Godard.
- John Williams (January 14, 2012). "National Book Critics Circle Names 2012 Award Finalists". The New York Times. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- RMS Titanic.
- New York Review of Books Archive: Mendelsohn Articles
- Bibliography of Holocaust Literature
- Daniel Mendelsohn on IMDb
- The Sigmund H. Danziger, Jr. Memorial Lecture in the Humanities
- "Waiting for the Barbarians by Daniel Mendelsohn – review", Christopher Bray, The Observer, 5 January 2013