David Benioff (born David Friedman but changed his name to take his mother's
maiden name) was born and raised in New York City and attended Dartmouth College
and the University of California at Irvine. His father, Stephen Friedman, is a
former chairman of Goldman Sachs and current Chairman of the United States
President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
Before the publication of his first novel The 25th Hour, Benioff worked as a club bouncer and high school English teacher, until his adaptation of The 25th Hour into a feature film directed by Spike Lee led to a new new career as a screenwriter, including the screenplays for "The Kite Runner".
Stories from his critically acclaimed collection When the Nines Roll Over appeared in Best New American Voices and The Best Nonrequired American Reading. His latest novel is City of Thieves. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Amanda Peet, and daughter.
About This Biography
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A Conversation with David Benioff about The City of Thieves
City of Thieves begs the question: Did all this really happen to
No. My grandfather was born on a farm in Delaware. He became a furrier and died in Allentown, Pennsylvania. My grandmother (unlike the non-cooking grandmother in the book) made the best chopped chicken liver in the state. Neither one, as far as I know, ever visited Russia.
David notes, "Truth might be stranger than fiction, but it needs a better editor." (p. 4) How much "editing" did you do?
See answer to number one. A whole lot.
How much additional research did you do to write this novel?
I had a wonderful teacher once, the novelist Ann Patchett. I asked her about the research she did for The Magician's Assistant, and she told me to choose the single best book on the given subject and study it obsessively. Writers are always tempted to track down dozens of books to help give our make-believe stories that tang of authenticity, but often the problem with too much research is a writing style that seems too researched, dry and musty, and eager for a history teacher's gold star of approval.
Unfortunately, my will was not ...
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