Adam Gopnik

Adam Gopnik
Adam Gopnik in 2014
Born (1956-08-24) August 24, 1956
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation Writer, essayist, commentator
Nationality American
Period 1986–present
Spouse Martha Rebecca Parker
Children 2

Adam Gopnik (born August 24, 1956) is an American writer and essayist. 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

Gopnik was born in Philadelphia and raised 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 B.A. While there, he was a contributor for The McGill Daily. He completed graduate work at the New York University Institute of Fine Arts. 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

Gopnik studied art history and with his friend Kirk Varnedoe curated the 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.[3]

Paris and "Paris Journal"

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,[4] after Gopnik returned to New York City in 2000. The book became a bestseller on The New York Times Bestseller List.

The New Yorker

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.[1] 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.[5][6]

Personal life

Gopnik lives in New York with his wife, Martha Rebecca Parker, and two children, Luke and Olivia. Martha's mother is Canadian filmmaker Gudrun Parker.[7] 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.[8] (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, 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 book The Table Comes First (2011), is about food, cooking and restaurants.[9]

Musical theatre

Gopnik began working on musical projects in 2015, as a lyricist and libretto writer. With the composer David Shire he has written book and lyrics for the musical comedy Table, inspired by Gopnik's 2011 book; it was workshopped in 2015 at the Long Wharf Theatre under the direction of Gordon Edelstein, featuring Melissa Errico.[10] For a 2017 revival at the Long Wharf Theatre, Table was retitled The Most Beautiful Room in New York.[11] He wrote the libretto for Nico Muhly's oratorio Sentences, which premiered in London at the Barbican Centre in June 2015.[12]

Other projects include collaborating on a one-woman show for 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.[13] Future projects include a new musical with Scott Frankel.[14]

Honors and appearances

A guest on Charlie Rose, Gopnik has received 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 participates as a member of the jury for the New York International Children's Film Festival.[15]

Gopnik recently wrote and presented Lighting Up New York, a cultural journey through the recent history of New York for Britain's BBC Four and is a regular contributor to the BBC Radio 4 weekly talk series A Point of View.[16]

He taught at the annual Iceland Writers Retreat in Reykjavík, Iceland, in spring 2015.[17] In 2016, Gopnik began a free lecture series at the Lincoln Center's David Rubenstein Atrium, titled The History of the World in 100 Performances.[18]



  1. 1 2 "Contributors: Adam Gopnik". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
  2. Daniel Baird. "The Observer, Observed", The Walrus, November 2011
  3. Archived July 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. de Botton, Alain (October 22, 2000). "There's There There". The New York Times.
  5. "Roanoke and the Value of Guns". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2015-10-11.
  6. "The Second Amendment Is a Gun-Control Amendment". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2015-10-11.
  8. Leland, John (2006-10-15). "Manhattan to the Moon". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  9. Davidson, Joshua (2012-12-01). "The Table Comes First: By Adam Gopnik". Food, Culture & Society. 15 (4): 684–688. doi:10.2752/175174412X13414122383042. ISSN 1552-8014.
  10. "Melissa Errico and Graham Rowat to Headline Workshop of Gopnick and Shire's Table". Wisdom Digital Media. February 21, 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  11. "The Most Beautiful Room In New York – A Note on the New Title" by Adam Gopnik, February 27, 2017
  12. "Nico Muhly Sentences". Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  13. "Melissa Errico: Sing the Silence – Songs of Women's Secret Lives co-written by Adam Gopnik)". Joe's Pub. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  14. Desk, BWW News. "Photo Flash: Melissa Errico Joins Adam Gopnik in Concert at National Sawdust+". Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  15. NYICFF Jury
  16. "A Point of View: What's the secret of writing great song lyrics?". London: BBC News. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  17. Gopnik, Adam (2015-04-16). "The Coffee of Civilization in Iceland". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  18. "New and Expanded Programming To Nearly Double The Number of Free Events Presented at David Rubenstein Atrium", press release, Lincoln Center, January 15, 2016
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