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Memoirist, Critic, and Translator

BIOGRAPHY

Daniel Mendelsohn is an internationally-bestselling author and award- winning critic and essayist; in 2019 he became the Editor at Large of the New York Review of Books and the Director of the Robert B. Silvers Foundation. He began his career in journalism in 1991, contributing to such publications as The Village Voice and The Nation while completing his Ph. D. in Classics at Princeton. Since then his translations, reviews, and essays on books, movies, theater, television, as well as numerous pieces about the Classics, have appeared regularly in many national publications, most frequently the New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and The New York Times.

Mendelsohn is the author of eleven books. The Elusive Embrace (1999), a memoir of family history and sexual identity twined around meditations on classical texts, was a New York Times Notable Book of 1999 and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, the 2006 account of Mendelsohn’s search for information about six relatives who perished in the Holocaust, was a New York Times and international bestseller, and went on to win the National Books Critics Circle Award, the National Jewish Book Award, the Salon Book Award, as well as the Prix Médicis in France and many other honors in the US and abroad; with more than half a million copies in print, it has been published in over fifteen languages. The story recounted in The Lost was featured in the 2022 Ken Burns documentary The U.S. and the Holocaust.

Mendelsohn has published two other books entwining memoir and literary criticism. His bestselling 2017 memoir, An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic, recounts his travels around the Mediterranean with his late father, a scientist, while reading Homer’s Odyssey. In May 2019 the book was chosen for the PBS NewsHour-New York Times book club. In 2020 he published Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate, which won the 2020 Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book Prize), was a Kirkus Best Book of 2020 and made Lithub's list of Our 65 Favorite Books of the Year.

Widely known as America’s most visible interpreter of the Greek and Roman classics for mainstream audiences, Mendelsohn is also a scholar of Modern Greek. In 2009, after twelve years of work and study, he published an acclaimed translation, with commentary, of the complete works of the Alexandrian Greek poet C. P. Cavafy. A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and shortlisted for the Criticos Prize in the UK, it was the first English translation to include the lost “Unfinished Poems.”

Mendelsohn’s many reviews and essays have been collected in a number of acclaimed collections. How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken (2008) was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year; his second collection, Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture 2012), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism and runner-up for the PEN Art of the Essay Award. About his 2018 collection of essays, Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones, the New York Times wrote, “One of the great critics of our time . . . revelatory.” A career-spanning collection titled The Bad Boy of Athens was published in the UK in 2019, 

Mendelsohn’s translation of Homer’s Odyssey will be published by the University of Chicago Press in Spring 2025. In June 2023, as part of the Frick Diptych series, each volume of which focuses on an individual work of art, the Frick Collection/D Giles Ltd will publish Mendelsohn’s extended essay on Bronzino’s Lodovico Capponi as part of the Frick “Diptych” series, also featuring an essay by curator Aimee Ng.

Mendelsohn’s other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Jewish Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Citation for Excellence in Book Reviewing, the George Jean Nathan Prize for Drama Criticism, the Society for Classical Studies Presidents’ Medal, Princeton University’s James Madison Medal, and the 2014 American Academy of Arts and Letter Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award for Prose Style. In 2008 he was placed by The Economist on its list of the best critics writing in the English language. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He has received the Malaparte Prize, Italy’s highest literary honor for foreign authors, the Prix Médicis and Prix Méditerranée in France, and he was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Republic's Minister of Culture. In 2023 he received an honorary doctorate in Letters from the University of Aix/Marseille.

Mendelsohn lives in the Hudson Valley and teaches literature at Bard College.

Daniel Mendelsohn official website

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