Ada Calhoun

Books Are Mag­ic, 2020

Ada Cal­houn is the author of Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me, named one of the Best Books of 2022 by the New York Times, Wash­ing­ton Post, Oprah Dai­ly, and NPR; fea­tured on PBS News Hour and the Today show; and longlist­ed for an Andrew Carnegie Medal for Non­fic­tion. Times crit­ic Alexan­dra Jacobs called it her favorite mem­oir of the year; Hud­son Book­sellers called it the non­fic­tion book of the year. 

Her instant New York Times best­seller Why We Can’t Sleep: Wom­en’s New Midlife Cri­sis, was an expan­sion of her viral sto­ry for Oprah​.com about the unique cir­cum­stances faced by Gen­er­a­tion X women. One of the Ama­zon Edi­tors’ Best Non­fic­tion Books of 2020, a Goodreads Choice Award Final­ist, and an Indie Next Pick, Why We Can’t Sleep was one of the biggest books of the sea­son accord­ing to the New York Times, Parade, and O mag­a­zine. It was trans­lat­ed into mul­ti­ple for­eign languages.

Vil­lage Voice, 2015

Cal­houn’s pri­or two books are the New York City his­to­ry St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of Amer­i­ca’s Hippest Street, New York Times Edi­tors’ Pick named one of the best books of 2015 by Kirkus Reviews, the Boston Globe, Orlan­do Week­ly, the New York Post, and the Vil­lage Voice; and the mem­oir Wed­ding Toasts I’ll Nev­er Give, which came out of a viral Mod­ern Love col­umn and was fea­tured twice on the Today show.

Past jobs include crime reporter for the New York Post, fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to The New York Times Book Review, and the­ater list­ings edi­tor for New York mag­a­zine. She is an A‑list ghost­writer, hav­ing anony­mous­ly col­lab­o­rat­ed on twen­ty-five major non­fic­tion books in the past dozen years, includ­ing sev­er­al New York Times bestsellers.

She has writ­ten for Time, Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Trav­el­er, the Times Lit­er­ary Sup­ple­ment, the New Repub­lic, Bill­board, Cos­mopoli­tan, the Wash­ing­ton Post, and Red­book; and con­tributed three essays to the New York­ers Page-Turn­er” col­umn; and three Mod­ern Love,” and four Lives” columns to the New York Times. Her con­tri­bu­tion to Beast­ie Boys Book was called one of the more effec­tive guest-star turns.”

Her nation­al news report­ing has won sev­er­al awards, includ­ing a USC-Annen­berg Nation­al Health Jour­nal­ism Fel­low­ship, a Kiplinger fel­low­ship, a CCF Media Award (for her New York Times Mag­a­zine work on a legal chal­lenge in Alaba­ma), a Croly Award, and an Ali­cia Pat­ter­son Foun­da­tion fel­low­ship. She received a Mac­Dow­ell colony stay in 2013 for St. Marks Is Dead, and has been grant­ed res­i­den­cies in the New York Pub­lic Library’s schol­ars’ rooms sev­en times since 2011. In 2023 she was a fel­low at the Hawthorn­den Cas­tle in Scotland.

In 2018, she cofound­ed the women jour­nal­ists bar night Sob Sis­ters; meet­ings are held four times a year at the 11th Street Bar in the East Vil­lage. She’s taught pub­lic affairs report­ing at Hof­s­tra Uni­ver­si­ty, cre­ative non-fic­tion at the Rut­gers Sum­mer Con­fer­ence, mem­oir and pro­pos­al writ­ing at the Mia­mi Book Fair’s Writ­ers Insti­tute (for which she served as the first Emerg­ing Writer Fel­low­ship non­fic­tion men­tor); and mem­oir at the Omega Insti­tute in Upstate New York (where she will teach again this com­ing August. She’s lec­tured or served on pan­els at a dozen book fes­ti­vals and toured to book­stores in twen­ty U.S. cities and to the UK.

In a cov­er pro­file, the Vil­lage Voice described her as cheer­ful and man­ner­ly.” The New York Times called her effer­ves­cent and con­ver­sa­tion­al.” Pub­lish­ers Week­ly: With tou­sled bleach-blonde hair, she gives off a kind of Deb­bie Har­ry, cir­ca the 1970s, energy.”

Her next book and first nov­el, Crush, is due out from Viking in 2025. Her edi­tor describes it as ask­ing trans­for­ma­tion­al ques­tions about desire.