Renata Adler

"Fear... is forward. No one is afraid of yesterday."

Born in Milan, Italy, Adler grew up in Danbury, Connecticut after her parents had fled Nazi Germany in 1933. After attending Bryn Mawr, The Sorbonne, and Harvard, she became a staff writer-reporter for The New Yorker. She later received her J.D. from Yale Law School, and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Georgetown University.

Adler’s essays and articles have been collected in Toward a Radical Middle (1969) and A Year in the Dark (1970), Reckless Disregard (1986), and Canaries in the Mineshaft (2001). Renata Adler is also the author of two successful novels Speedboat (1976) and Pitch Dark (1983). Both novels are composed of seemingly unconnected passages that challenge readers to find meaning. Like her nonfiction, Adler's novels examine the issues and mores of contemporary life.

In 1987, Adler was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. That same year, she received an honorary doctorate from Georgetown University. Her "Letter from Selma" has been published in the Library of America volume of Civil Rights Reporting. An essay from her tenure as film critic of The New York Times is included in the Library of America volume of American Film Criticism. In 2004, she served as a Media Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institute.

Author's books


A touchstone over the years for writers as different as David Foster Wallace and Elizabeth Hardwick, Speedboat returns to enthrall a new generation of readers. When members of the National Book Critics Circle were polled to see which book they would most like to see republished, they chose Speedboat—“by far.” This story of a young female newspaper reporter coming of age in New York City was originally published serially in the New Yorker; it is made out of seemingly unrelated vignettes—tart observations distilled through relentless intellect—which add up to an analysis of our brittle, urban existence. It remains as fresh as when it was first published.


The Book of Moods
How I Turned My Worst Emotions Into My Best Life

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