David L. Ulin

Reading is an empathy machine. It puts us into the hearts and minds and souls of others—how can we not confront our common humanity when we participate in that?

Guggenheim fellow

 lannan foundation residency fellow

California Book Award

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David Ulin’s soul is up for grabs. The digital era has sunk its hooks into him, and politics has corroded his spirit. But Ulin has found a powerful and instructive form of resistance in his lifelong love of books. The Lost Art of Reading makes us consider our own souls in this crucial moment, and reminds us why books matter. A necessary and deeply human read
— Claire Dederer
Sidewalking is a profound and poetic book. It is a meditation not only on the strange and marvelous nature of Los Angeles but also on the nature of history, memory, and community itself. This is nonfiction writing at its very best.
— Susan Orlean

David L. Ulin is the author or editor of ten books, including Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles (University of California Press, 2015), shortlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay; The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time (Sasquatch Books, 2018), and Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology (Library of America, 2002), which won a California Book Award. He is currently editing the Collected Works of Joan Didion for the Library of America. The first volume of the three volume set will be published in October 2019. The former book editor and book critic of the Los Angeles Times, he has also written for The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, The New Yorker, The Nation, The New York Times, Bookforum, The Paris Review, Black Clock, Virginia Quarterly Review, AGNI, Zyzzyva, Columbia Journalism Review, and National Public Radio's All Things Considered.

In an interview in The Coachella Review, Ulin was asked if he still feels that “reading is...an act of resistance in landscape of distraction,” a quote from the first edition of The Lost Art of Reading.  He responded by noting, “Reading... requires us to think, to suspend judgment, to wait and see. It is a mechanism of critical thinking, which is now in short supply. Probably it always was, but we have lost the thread of a common narrative, or even a common (or agreed upon) set of facts. Can reading save us? Probably not. But it is a way of stepping back from, of resisting, what are now the defining cultural narratives: racism, xenophobia, misogyny, the brutal exercise of power, the taunting of the powerless. I hate those narratives and I will resist them in any way I can.”

A former member of the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle and the PEN Center USA, he is the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a Tom and Mary Gallagher Fellowship from Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship.

He teaches at the University of Southern California, and lives in Los Angeles.



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