As one of the most creative literary journalists of today, Susan Orlean is the author of the best-selling book, The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Oscar-winning movie, Adaptation.
Her latest work, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend tells the story of Rin Tin Tin’s journey from orphaned puppy to movie star and international icon. From the moment in 1918 when Corporal Lee Duncan discovers Rin Tin Tin on a World War I battlefield, he recognizes something in the pup that he needs to share with the world. Rin Tin Tin’s improbable introduction to Hollywood leads to the dog’s first blockbuster film and over time, the many radio programs, movies, and television shows that follow. The canine hero’s legacy is cemented by Duncan and a small group of others who devote their lives to keeping him and his descendants alive. At its heart, Rin Tin Tin is a poignant exploration of the enduring bond between humans and animals. But it is also a richly textured history of 20th century entertainment and entrepreneurship and the changing role of dogs in the American family and society. Almost ten years in the making, Orlean’s first original book since The Orchid Thief is a tour de force of history, human interest, and masterful storytelling—something she shares with audiences in her multimedia presentations on the subject. Orlean became a staff writer for The New Yorker in 1992. She has written dozens of "Talk of the Town," "Profiles” and "Reporter at Large" articles, as well as a series of American popular culture columns, called "Popular Chronicles." The "Chronicles" thus far have included subjects such as an article on taxidermy, umbrella inventors, designer Bill Blass, Harlem high school basketball star Felipe Lopez, the friends and neighbors of Tonya Harding, and D.J. Red Alert, a hip-hop radio star in New York. Prior to joining The New Yorker, Orlean was a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and also at Vogue, where she wrote about numerous figures in both the music and fashion industries. She has also contributed to Esquire, Smithsonian, The New York Times Magazine, and many other publications. Orlean has written several books, including My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere, The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Ordinary People, Red Sox and Blue Fish, Saturday Night, Lazy Little Loafers, and The Orchid Thief, a narrative about orchid poachers in Florida. Orlean teaches creative writing at NYU and has been a writer-in-residence at several universities. She received her B.A. with honors from the University of Michigan and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. She lives in upstate New York and Los Angeles with her husband and son.