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Author Biography


Jennifer Vanderbes is an award-winning novelist, journalist and screenwriter whose work has been translated into sixteen languages.  


Her first novel, Easter Island was named a "best book of 2003" by the Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor.  Her second novel, Strangers At The Feast, was described by O, The Oprah Magazine as "a thriller that also raises large and haunting questions about the meaning of guilt, innocence, and justice."  Her third novel, The Secret of Raven Point, was hailed as “unputdownable”  (Vogue) and “gripping” (New York Times),  and Library Journal wrote, “the only disappointing thing about this book is that it has to end." 


Having started her career as a journalist, in 2023 Vanderbes returned to investigative work with her first non-fiction book, Wonder Drug: The Secret History of Thalidomide in America and Its Hidden Victims, published by Random House and HarperCollins UK. The book garnered starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist and Publishers Weekly, which called it "a deeply researched and chilling must-read." Wonder Drug was an NPR Book of the Day and received rave reviews from the Washington Post, the Globe & Mail, People Magazine, Science Magazine and the Harvard Magazine for Public Health. The NEH named Vanderbes a Public Scholar for her work on Wonder Drug and the book was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie medal.

Vanderbes also writes regularly for film and television and was a 2022 Athena List Winner for a feature script she wrote for Paramount. Her screenwriting was also honored in 2022 by the New York Foundation for the Arts. Vanderbes has developed television projects with HBO, Fox, Lifetime, Sony and UCP and currently works as an Executive Story Editor on Law & Order. Primating, Vanderbes's romantic comedy for the stage about primatologists at a chimpanzee research station, premiered at the Arkansas Repertory Theater in 2021.


Her books have received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the New York Public Library. Vanderbes received her B.A. in English Literature, Magna Cum Laude, from Yale and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.  She lives in New York City.



PBS, Jennifer Vanderbes discusses WONDER DRUG on "The Open Mind"with Alexander Heffner Link




NPR Weekend Edition, Jennifer Vanderbes discusses WONDER DRUG with Ayesha Rascoe Link

Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Jennifer Vanderbes discusses WONDER DRUG with Ralph Nader Link




"The Evolutionary Case for Great Fiction"  (The Atlantic)   Link

"A Brief History of Fire"   (Granta Magazine)   Link

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