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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." 


Her first non-fiction book, Wonder Drug: The Secret History of Thalidomide in America and Its Hidden Victims, is forthcoming from Random House and HarperCollins UK.


Primating, Vanderbes's romantic comedy about primatologists at a chimpanzee research station, premiered at the Arkansas Repertory Theater in 2021. She also writes regularly for film and television and she was named 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.

Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and The Atlantic, and her short fiction has appeared in Granta, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Best New American Voices.

Her books have received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the New York Public Library. She was named a 2019-2020 NEH Public Scholar for her work on Wonder Drug.


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 with her two daughters.



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

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

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