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Mark Kurlansky

29th annual Key West Literary Seminar

—The Hungry Muse: An Exploration of Food in Literature—

January 6 - 16, 2011

Mark Kurlansky was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1948. He earned a bachelor’s degree in theater from Butler University in 1970, was drafted but refused to serve in the military, and found work at various times as a playwright, commercial fisherman, dock worker, paralegal, cook, and pastry chef.

In the mid 1970s, Kurlansky turned to journalism, and from 1976 to 1991 he worked as a foreign correspondent for The International Herald TribuneThe Chicago TribuneThe Miami Herald, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Today, he is best known as the award-winning author of books including Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the WorldSalt: A World HistoryThe Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell; and The Last Fish Tale: The Fate of the Atlantic and Survival in Gloucester, America’s Oldest Fishing Port and Most Original Town. His most recent book is The Food of a Younger Land, an anthology of the unpublished manuscripts from the last WPA writers project, which explored food and eating in America in 1940. Due out in 2010 are The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macorís, and Edible Stories, a cycle of interconnected short stories about food.

In 2007, Kurlansky received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for his bookNonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea. He has received the James Beard Award for Food Writing, Bon Apetit’s Food Writer of the Year Award, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Science Writing Award. His work has also appeared in TimeHarper’sThe New York Times Sunday MagazineAudubonFood & WineGourmet, and Bon Apetit.

Today, Kurlansky lives in New York City, where he is at work on several projects including a biography of baseball legend Hank Greenberg and a children’s book explaining the current crisis in the oceans. He is a regular guest lecturer at Columbia University School of Journalism, Yale University, Colby College, and various other schools. He is also an artist; his lino cuts, pen-and-ink drawings, watercolors, and other visual works frequently illustrate his own books, which have been translated into twenty-five languages.

Online Resources:

Mark Kurlansky’s website
On PBS’s Art Beat (audio)
Q & A in The New Yorker
Interview w/ the NY State Writers Institute

Selected Bibliography:

The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macorís (Riverhead 2010)

Edible Stories (Riverhead 2010)

The Food of A Younger Land: A portrait of American food before the national highway system (Riverhead 2009)

The Belly of Paris (translation / Emile Zola) (Modern Library 2009)

The Last Fish Tale: The Fate of the Atlantic and survival in Gloucester(Balantine Books 2008)

The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell (Ballantine Books 2006)

Non-Violence: Twenty-five Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea(Modern Library 2006)

Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue: A Novel of Pastry, Guilt, and Music (Ballantine 2005)

Choice Cuts: A Savory Selection of Food Writing from Around the World (editor) (Ballantine Books 2004)

Salt: A World History (Walker 2002)

The Basque History of the World (Walker 1999)

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (Walker 1997)

A Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry (Addison-Wesley 1995)

A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny (Addison-Wesley 1992)

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