Susan Orlean

Spring 2017



The New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean has been called “a national treasure” by the Washington Post. Her deeply moving—and deeply humorous—explorations of American stories have earned her a reputation as one of our most distinctive journalistic voices. Her bestseller The Orchid Thief inspired the Academy Award-winning film Adaptation.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Orlean attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She always dreamed of becoming a writer. She moved to Portland, Oregon soon after graduating U. of M. and got a job at a small local magazine before landing a position writing music reviews and feature pieces at an alternative newsweekly. She also started writing for Rolling Stone and the Village Voice.

In 1982 Orlean moved to Boston, worked for the Boston Phoenix and the Boston Globe, and began working on Saturday Night, a series of essays about how Americans across the country spend their Saturday night. Four years later she moved to New York and started on The Orchid Thief. 

The_Orchid_Thief Rin Tin Tin

In her own words, Orlean describes herself as “an author, a staff writer for The New Yorker, a dog owner, a gardener, a parent, a frequent lecturer/speaker, an occasional teacher, a very occasional guest editor, a once-in-a-blue-moon movie inspiration, and doodler.”

Her most recent project, Rin Tin Tin, held its first national book tour at the end of 2011, taking Orlean to the far corners of the United States.

Orlean has been with The New Yorker for over 20 years and is a former contributing editor at Vogue. She penned the collection My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere.

She currently lives in Los Angeles and Columbus County, New York with her husband, their son, and their Welsh Springer Spaniel, Cooper.




March 22, 7pm – Travel Writing Conference, SJSU Student Union Theatre




Praise for Susan Orlean

“Orlean is a beautiful writer, and her story is compelling even for those whose knowledge of orchids is limited to the long-ago prom corsage. The Orchid Thief is a lesson in the dark, dangerous, sometimes hilarious nature of obsession–any obsession. You sometimes don’t want to read on, but find you can’t help it.” – USA Today

“Orlean’s buoyant, self-assured style makes the journey fun.” – Salon

“Orlean’s snapshot-vivid, pitch-perfect prose . . . is fast becoming one of our national treasures.”
– Washington Post Book World

“Orlean’s gifts [are] her ear for the self-skewing dialogue, her eye for the incongruous, convincing detail, and her Didion-like deftness in description.” – Boston Sunday Globe

All events are open to the public and wheelchair accessible.