Writer and lecturer on politics, culture and psychology, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia, President of PEN American Center. Author of “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity.”
Andrew Solomon appears in sessions on these topics
Solomon's newest book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity won the National Book Critics Circle award for nonfiction. It tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children, but also find profound meaning in doing so. Solomon's startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the struggles toward compassion and the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter. Woven into these courageous and affirming stories is Solomon's journey to accepting his own identity, which culminated in his midlife decision, influenced by this research, to become a parent. The New York Times hailed the book, writing, "It's a book everyone should read... there's no one who wouldn't be a more imaginative and understanding parent — or human being — for having done so... a wise and beautiful book."
Solomon's previous book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (Scribner, 2001), won the 2001 National Book Award for Nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize, and was included in The Times of London's list of one hundred best books of the decade. A New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback editions, The Noonday Demon has been published in twenty-four languages. The New York Times described it as "All-encompassing, brave, deeply humane... a book of remarkable depth, breadth and vitality... open-minded, critically informed and poetic all at the same time... fearless, and full of compassion."
A native New Yorker, Andrew Solomon attended the Horace Mann School, graduating cum laude in 1981. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Yale University in 1985, graduating magna cum laude, and later earned a Master's degree in English at Jesus College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge, he received the top first-class degree in English in his year, the only foreign student ever to be so-honored, as well as the University writing prize. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from Cambridge University in 2013.
From 1993 to 2001, Solomon was a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, writing on a wide range of subjects; he has also written periodically for The New Yorker. Such journalism has spanned many topics, including depression, Soviet artists, the cultural rebirth of Afghanistan, and Libyan politics. He has authored essays for many anthologies and books of criticism. He continues to write for the New York Times and the New Yorker, and appears frequently on National Public Radio.
Solomon is an activist in LGBT rights, mental health, education and the arts. He is a member of the Board of Visitors of Columbia University Medical Center, serves on the National Advisory Board of the Depression Center at the University of Michigan, is a director of Columbia Psychiatry; and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. In 2008, Solomon received the Society of Biological Psychiatry's Humanitarian Award for his contributions to the field of mental health, and in 2010, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation's Productive Lives Award. In 2011, he was appointed Special Advisor on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Mental Health at the Yale School of Psychiatry. Additionally, Solomon serves on the boards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the World Monuments Fund; Yaddo; and The Alex Fund, which supports the education of Romani children