Jonathan Lethem biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem Biography

Jonathan Lethem was born February 19, 1964 in Brooklyn, NY. He attended the alternative High School of Music & Art in New York where he produced a literary magazine and wrote a short novel titled Heroes. Lethem went to Bennington College in Vermont before dropping out in his sophomore year to move to California and pursue writing.

Lethem met with literary success early. His first novel, Gun, With Occasional Music, a science fiction/hard-boiled detective story, was a finalist for the 1994 Nebula Award. The commercial success that Lethem saw for Gun, With Occasional Music, combined with the optioning of the novel's film rights, allowed the author to stop working at bookstores and devote himself full-time to writing.

Each of Lethem's subsequent three novels -- Amnesia Moon, As She Climbed Across the Table, and Girl in Landscape -- were in the science fiction genre, and each went largely unnoticed by the mainstream.

In 1996, the author moved from the San Francisco Bay area back to Brooklyn and began writing Motherless Brooklyn, a detective novel built around a language-obsessed protagonist suffering from Tourette's Syndrome. Motherless Brooklyn won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 1999 and also garnered the Macalan Gold Dagger for crime fiction. The New York Times referred to Lethem as a "genre bender" for his able mix of detective, science fiction, and literary elements in his novels to-date.

In 2003, Lethem published The Fortress of Solitude, a somewhat autobiographical coming-of-age novel about two friends growing up in the Brooklyn of his youth. With its elements of magical realism and thematic complexity, The Fortress of Solitude is considered to be among the best of Lethem's novels.

Lethem has since published Men and Cartoons, a collection of short stories, and The Disappointment Artist, a collection of essays, in addition to his 2007 novel about a complaint-line phone operator who incorporates her callers' words into her band's lyrics, You Don't Love Me Yet.

Jonathan Lethem's website

This bio was last updated on 01/09/2014. We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate, but with many thousands of lives to keep track of it's a tough task. So, please help us - if the information about this author is out of date or inaccurate, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and publishers: If you wish to make changes to a bio, send the complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we can replace the old with the new.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Interview

Jonathan Lethem talks about his latest book, The Fortress of Solitude, Brooklyn and how much the book mirrors his own experiences.

You're going on an extensive reading tour for FORTRESS. What's it like talking about Brooklyn outside of New York?
As a regional writer, which is what I am lately, I'm incredibly lucky: my region is an archetype that the rest of the country, and indeed the world, cares about. Brooklyn's been etched into the cultural consciousness of most readers (and moviegoers), so I don't feel like I meet a lot of resistance in putting the material across elsewhere. And just about everyone I meet claims to have a distant uncle or cousin living in Brooklyn, not that they ever call or visit.

The book is packed with such rich detail: on the prison system, comic books, the music industry. How much research was necessary on these subjects?
I did a lot of research, more than I'd ever done for any other book by far. More than I'd ever done in school, in fact, I learned the pleasure of study for the first time these last five year, which is to say, quite late. Of course, much of what I was studying was my own life, the life of my city as I'd known it, the culture which surrounded me like an ocean surrounds a fish and about which I felt so much already, even if I understood very little. I had to go back...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Jonathan Lethem at BookBrowse
A Gambler's Anatomy jacket Lucky Alan jacket Dissident Gardens jacket The Ecstasy of Influence jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Jonathan Lethem but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Molly Antopol

    Molly Antopol

    Molly Antopol teaches writing at Stanford University, where she was a recent Wallace Stegner Fellow. A recipient of the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 award, she holds an MFA from Columbia University and lives in ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Dissident Gardens

    Try:
    The UnAmericans
    by Molly Antopol

  • Anne Applebaum

    Anne Applebaum

    Anne Applebaum was born in 1964, and was educated at Sidwell Friends School before earning a BA at Yale. Anne went on to earn a Masters Degree at the London School of Economics, before moving to Warsaw, Poland in 1988 as a ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Dissident Gardens

    Try:
    Iron Curtain
    by Anne Applebaum

We recommend 37 similar authors

View all 37 Readalikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Treeborne
    Treeborne
    by Caleb Johnson
    The Treeborne family has lived on The Seven – the local sobriquet for a seven-acre stretch of ...
  • Book Jacket
    Grace
    by Paul Lynch
    Harrowing. Gorgeous. Epic. Grace, Paul Lynch's coming of age novel about a young woman, is set ...
  • Book Jacket: The Perfectionists
    The Perfectionists
    by Simon Winchester
    We seek precision in our lives every day. We want to drive from home to work and work to home safely...
  • Book Jacket: Beauty in the Broken Places
    Beauty in the Broken Places
    by Allison Pataki
    Ernest Hemingway wrote that we are "strong at the broken places," and Allison Pataki found that to ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson

An audacious American epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Clock Dance
    by Anne Tyler

    A delightful novel of one woman's transformative journey, from the best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Family Tabor
    by Cherise Wolas

    Wolas's gorgeously rendered sophomore novel reckons with the nature of the stories we tell ourselves.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win A Place for Us

A Place For Us

A deeply moving story of love, identity and belonging--the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

H, W H A Problem

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.