Lorraine Adams is a novelist, critic and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Her first novel, Harbor, was published by Alfred A. Knopf. It was critically acclaimed in publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Esquire, The Guardian, The Times of London and others. It won the Los Angeles Times Book Award for First Fiction and the Virginia Commonwealth University First Novelist Award in 2004. It was on the New York Times Book Review’s Best Books of 2004 list, a 2004 Washington Post Notable Book, Entertainment Weekly’s Best Novel of 2004 and Annie Proulx’s Book-of-the-Month Club Selection in 2004. It was short listed for the Guardian First Book award and long listed for the Orange Prize in 2006. Adams has been a regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review since 2005 specializing in reviewing foreign fiction, often from the Muslim world. She has also written for The New Republic, Bookforum and Slate.
Adams was born in Coaldale, Pennsylvania and grew up in New Jersey. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University. She was a fellow at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and received a master’s degree in English and American literature.
She began her journalism career at The Concord Monitor, a small New Hampshire daily newspaper. At The Dallas Morning News in Texas she was drawn to issues of social justice and the marginalized. In 1992 She won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for a series on violations of civil rights by Texas law enforcement. That same year, The Washington Post hired her as an investigative reporter.
During her tenure at the Post, her journalistic skills were often at odds with her literary roots. A turning point came in 2000, when the Post assigned her to an investigative project—an anatomy of a terrorism investigation. She came to know young Algerian refugees under FBI surveillance. Disagreements stemming from the ambiguity of these young men’s lives led to her quitting. Witnessing part of the World Trade Center attacks and learning of a childhood friend’s death there pushed her to write the story of one young Algerian named Aziz, whose tale the Post had declined to publish. She did so not so much out of a desire to write a novel per se, but to recount the lost stories of Algerians she knew without the strictures of journalism and the conventional sentiment of the moment.
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