Meghan Daum

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Meghan Daum
Daum at the 2015 Texas Book Festival
Daum at the 2015 Texas Book Festival
Born (1970-02-13) February 13, 1970 (age 52)
Alma materVassar College, Columbia University
GenreNovelist, essayist

Meghan Elizabeth Daum (born February 13, 1970) is an American author, essayist, podcaster, and journalist.

Childhood and education[edit]

Although she was born in California, Daum grew up in Austin, Texas, and Ridgewood, New Jersey. She received her bachelor's degree from Vassar College and her Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University.[1]


Daum spent much of her twenties in New York City. In 1999, she moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, and the experience became the catalyst for her 2003 novel The Quality of Life Report, which follows the life and times of an ambitious young television journalist who trades New York for the fictional town of Prairie City and explores themes of social class in America as well as the contradictions of the "simplicity movement." She is also the author of two collections of essays, My Misspent Youth and The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, which was named as a top 10 books of the year by Slate and Entertainment Weekly.[2] It won the 2015 PEN CENTER USA Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction.

Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Vogue, GQ, Harper's and elsewhere.

Daum lives in Los Angeles, California, and New York City. She has been an opinion columnist for the Los Angeles Times since 2005. She is a member of the adjunct faculty in the writing division of the School of the Arts at Columbia University.

Daum is a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in general nonfiction and the recipient of 2016 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in creative writing. In 2017 she served as the Bedell Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program.[3]

In 2015, Daum wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times about the suicide of transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn.[4] The article was criticized for equating criticism of Leelah Alcorn's parents, who subjected her to conversion therapy and socially isolated her for months, with transphobia, as well as denying the Alcorns' actions were motivated by transphobia. The article was also criticized for calling for more compassion for the Alcorns from LGBT people.[5]

In 2020, Daum started a podcast for discussing complicated and controversial issues, The Unspeakable.


  • Meghan Daum. (2001). My Misspent Youth: Essays. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 1-890447-26-9.
  • Meghan Daum. (2004). The Quality of Life Report. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-200443-X.
  • Meghan Daum. (2010). Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-307-45484-3.
  • Meghan Daum. (2014). The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-28044-4.
  • Meghan Daum., ed. (2015). Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids. New York: Picador. ISBN 978-1-250-05293-3.
  • Meghan Daum. (2019). The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars. New York: Gallery Books. ISBN 978-1982129330.


  1. ^ Lee, Linda. "A NIGHT OUT WITH: Meghan Daum; No Escaping the City", The New York Times, June 1, 2003. Accessed September 22, 2015. "Among the crowd were chums from her days at Vassar and from the M.F.A. writing program at Columbia, and her parents. (She grew up in Ridgewood, N.J.)"
  2. ^ David Haglund, Dan Kois, Katy Waldman (December 4, 2014). "The Top 10 Books of the Year". Slate Magazine.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Live From Prairie Lights: Meghan Daum". Archived from the original on 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2017-06-03.
  4. ^ Daum, Meghan (2015-01-15). "Op-Ed: Why blaming Leelah Alcorn's parents only compounds the bigotry". Retrieved 2022-06-09.
  5. ^ Schares, Evan Mitchell (2019-02-01). "The Suicide of Leelah Alcorn: Whiteness in the Cultural Wake of Dying Queers". QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking. 6 (1): 1–25. doi:10.14321/qed.6.1.0001. ISSN 2327-1574.

External links[edit]