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Andrew Solomon (born 30 October 1963) is a writer on politics, culture and psychology, who lives in New York and London. He has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Artforum, Travel and Leisure, and other publications on a range of subjects, including depression, Soviet artists, the cultural rebirth of Afghanistan, Libyan politics, and deaf politics. His book The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression won the 2001 National Book Award, was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize, and was included in The Times list of one hundred best books of the decade. Honors awarded to Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity include the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award, the Media for a Just Society Award of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
Solomon was born and raised in Manhattan. He 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. In August 2013, he was awarded a Ph.D. in psychology from Jesus College, Cambridge, with a thesis on attachment theory prepared under the supervision of Professor Juliet Mitchell.
Solomon is the oldest son of Howard Solomon, the chairman of pharmaceutical manufacturer Forest Laboratories, and Carolyn Bower Solomon. Solomon described the experience of being present at his mother's planned suicide at the end of a long battle with ovarian cancer in an article for The New Yorker; in a fictionalized account in his novel, A Stone Boat; and again in The Noonday Demon. Solomon's subsequent depression, eventually managed with psychotherapy and antidepressant medications, inspired his father to secure FDA approval to market citalopram (Celexa) in the United States.
As an adult Solomon became a dual citizen of the United States and the United Kingdom. He and journalist John Habich had a civil partnership ceremony on June 30, 2007, at Althorp, the Spencer family estate and childhood home of Diana, Princess of Wales. The couple married again on July 19, 2009, the eighth anniversary of their meeting, in Connecticut, so that their marriage would be legally recognized in the state of New York.
In 2003, Solomon and longtime friend Blaine Smith decided to have a child together; their daughter, Carolyn Blaine Smith Solomon, was born in November 2007. Mother and child live in Texas. A son, George Charles Habich Solomon, was born in April 2009, and lives in New York with Solomon and Habich, his adoptive father. Habich is also the biological father of two children, Oliver and Lucy, born to lesbian friends who live in Minneapolis. The development of this composite family was the subject of a feature article by Solomon published in Newsweek in January 2011, and in an April 2012 profile in The Observer.
In 1988, Solomon began his study of Russian artists, which culminated with the publication of The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in a Time of Glasnost (Knopf, 1991). His first novel, A Stone Boat (Faber, 1994), the story of a man's shifting identity as he watches his mother battle cancer, was a runner up for the Los Angeles Times First Fiction prize.
The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression was originally published in May 2001, and has been translated into twenty-four languages. It was named a Notable Book of 2001 by The New York Times, and was included in the American Library Association's 2002 list of Notable Books. It won the National Book Award for Nonfiction; the Books for a Better Life Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society; the 2002 Ken Book Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City; Mind Book of the Year; the Lambda Literary Award for Autobiography/Memoir; and Quality Paperback Book Club's New Visions Award.
Following publication of The Noonday Demon, Solomon was honored with the Dr Albert J. Solnit Memorial Award from Fellowship Place; the Voice of Mental Health Award from the Jed Foundation and the National Mental Health Association (now Mental Health America); the Prism Award from the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association; the Erasing the Stigma Leadership Award from Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services; the Charles T. Rubey L.O.S.S. Award from the Karla Smith Foundation; and the Silvano Arieti Award from the William Alanson White Institute.
In 2003, Solomon's article, "The Amazing Life of Laura", a profile of diarist Laura Rothenberg, received the Clarion Award for Health Care Journalism, and the Angel of Awareness Award from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In April 2009, his article, "Cancer & Creativity: One Chef’s True Story," received the Bert Greene Award for Food Journalism by the International Association of Culinary Professionals; the story was also a finalist for the 11th Annual Henry R. Luce Award. Solomon's reminiscence on a friend who committed suicide won the Folio Eddie Gold Award in 2011.
Solomon's most recent book, Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, about how families accommodate children with physical, mental and social disabilities and differences, was published in November 2012 in the United States and two months later in the UK (under the title, Far from the Tree: A Dozen Kinds of Love). The writing of the book was supported by residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, Ucross Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center; at MacDowell, Solomon was the DeWitt Wallace/Reader’s Digest Fellow and later the Stanford Calderwood fellow. The book was named one of the 10 best books of 2012 by The New York Times. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award in the Nonfiction category, the Media for a Just Society Award of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Books for a Better Life Award, the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) Book of the Year Award for Nonfiction.
Following publication of Far from the Tree, Solomon was also honored with the Yale Department of Psychiatry's Neuroscience 2013 Research Advocacy Award, the Fountain House Humanitarian Award, the Gray Matters Award from the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, the University of Michigan's Mike Wallace Award, the Friend and Benefactor Award of the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Seeds of Hope Award, and the Klerman Award from the Weill-Cornell Medical College Department of Psychiatry.
Solomon is an activist and philanthropist in LGBT rights, mental health, education and the arts. He is founder of the Solomon Research Fellowships in LGBT Studies at Yale University and a member of the boards of directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Trans Youth Family Allies. His articles on gay marriage have appeared in Newsweek, The Advocate, and Anderson Cooper 360.
Solomon has lectured widely on depression, including at Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress. He is a lecturer in Psychiatry at Weill-Cornell Medical College; a director of the University of Michigan Depression Center, Columbia Psychiatry, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; a member of the Board of Visitors of Columbia Medical School, and the Advisory Boards of the Mental Health Policy Forum at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. In 2011, he was appointed Special Advisor on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Mental Health at the Yale School of Psychiatry. 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 & Behavior Research Foundation's Productive Lives Award.
Solomon's work in the arts and education includes service on the boards of the Alliance for the Arts, the World Monuments Fund, and The Alex Fund, which supports the education of Romani children. He is a Trustee of the Metropolitan Museum, the Library Council of the New York Public Library, and the corporation of Yaddo. He is also a fellow of Berkeley College at Yale University, and a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities and the Council on Foreign Relations.
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