Rebecca Solnit in 2010
Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
|Occupation||Author, memoirist, essayist|
|Subject||Cultural history, environmentalism, memoir|
Early life and education
Solnit was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to a Jewish father and Irish Catholic mother, and in 1966 her family moved to Novato, California, where she grew up. "I was a battered little kid," she said of her childhood. She skipped high school altogether, enrolling in an alternative junior high in the public school system that took her through tenth grade, when she passed the General Educational Development tests. Thereafter she enrolled in junior college. When she was 17, she went to study in Paris. She returned to California to finish her college education at San Francisco State University. She then received a master's degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984 and has been an independent writer since 1988.
Solnit has worked on environmental and human rights campaigns since the 1980s, notably with the Western Shoshone Defense Project in the early 1990s, as described in her book Savage Dreams, and with antiwar activists throughout the Bush era. She has discussed her interest in climate change and the work of 350.org and the Sierra Club, and in women's rights, especially violence against women.
Her writing has appeared in numerous publications in print and online, including the Guardian newspaper and Harper's Magazine, where she is the first woman to regularly write the Easy Chair column founded in 1851. She was also a regular contributor to the political blog TomDispatch and is (as of 2018) a regular contributor to LitHub.
Solnit is the author of seventeen books as well as essays in numerous museum catalogs and anthologies. Her 2009 book A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster began as an essay called "The Uses of Disaster: Notes on Bad Weather and Good Government" published by Harper’s magazine the day that Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast. It was partially inspired by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which Solnit described as "a remarkable occasion...a moment when everyday life ground to a halt and people looked around and hunkered down". In a conversation with filmmaker Astra Taylor for BOMB magazine, Solnit summarized the radical theme of A Paradise Built in Hell: "What happens in disasters demonstrates everything an anarchist ever wanted to believe about the triumph of civil society and the failure of institutional authority."
In 2014, Haymarket Books published Men Explain Things to Me, a collection of short essays written about instances of "mansplaining." Solnit has been credited with paving the way for the coining of the word "mansplaining," which has been used to refer to instances in which men explain things (generally toward women) in a condescending and/or patronizing way, but Solnit did not use it in the original essay. Solnit's book included illustrations from visual and performance artist Ana Teresa Fernández.
In 2019, Solnit rewrote a new version of Cinderella, also for Haymarket Books, called Cinderella Liberator. In this feminist revision, Solnit reclaims Ella from the cinders and gives both the prince ("Prince Nevermind" in her version) and Ella new futures that involve thinking for themselves, acting out free will, starting businesses, and becoming friends, rather than dependent lovers. As Syreeta McFadden argued for NBC News, Cinderella has long been retold, changing with the times and this was a much needed revision. Solnit's retelling is creative in that she uses the original Arthur Rackham’s original silhouetted drawings of Cinderella, but liberates her through research, words, and story.
Solnit has received two NEA fellowships for Literature, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Creative Capital Award, a Lannan literary fellowship, and a 2004 Wired Rave Award for writing on the effects of technology on the arts and humanities. In 2010 Utne Reader magazine named Solnit as one of the "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World". Her The Faraway Nearby (2013) was nominated for a National Book Award, and shortlisted for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award.
New York Times book critic Dwight Garner called Solnit "the kind of rugged, off-road public intellectual America doesn't produce often enough. ... Solnit's writing, at its worst, can be dithering and self-serious, Joan Didion without the concision and laser-guided wit. At her best, however [...] she has a rare gift: the ability to turn the act of cognition, of arriving at a coherent point of view, into compelling moral drama.”
For River of Shadows, Solnit was honored with the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism and the 2004 Sally Hacker Prize from the Society for the History of Technology, which honors exceptional scholarship that reaches beyond the academy toward a broad audience. Solnit was also awarded Harvard's Mark Lynton History Prize in 2004 for River of Shadows. Solnit was awarded the 2015-16 Corlis Benefideo Award for Imaginative Cartography by the North American Cartographic Information Society Solnit's book, Call Them By Their True Names: American Crises, won the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. She won the 2019 Windham–Campbell Literature Prize in Non-Fiction.
- Secret Exhibition: Six California Artists of the Cold War Era. San Francisco: City Lights Bookstore. 1991. ISBN 9780872862548.
- Savage Dreams: A Journey Into the Landscape Wars of the American West. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2014 . ISBN 9780520957923.
- A Book of Migrations: Some Passages in Ireland. London: Verso. 2011 . ISBN 9781844677085.
- Wanderlust: A History of Walking. New York: Penguin. 2001 . ISBN 9780140286014.
- Hollow City: The Siege of San Francisco and the Crisis of American Urbanism. Images by Susan Schwartzenberg. London: Verso. 2002 . ISBN 9781859843635.CS1 maint: others (link)
- As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender, and Art. Athens: University of Georgia Press. 2003 . ISBN 9780820324937.
- River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West. New York: Viking. 2004 . ISBN 0142004103.
- Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (Updated Edition). Haymarket Books. 2016 . ISBN 9781608465767.
- A Field Guide to Getting Lost. New York: Viking. 2005. ISBN 9781101118719.
- Yosemite in Time: Ice Ages, Tree Clocks, Ghost Rivers. Photographs by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. San Antonio: Trinity University Press. 2005. ISBN 9781595340429.CS1 maint: others (link)
- "The Ruins of Memory". After the Ruins, 1906 and 2006: Rephotographing the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. Mark Klett with Michael Lundgren. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2006. ISBN 9780520245563.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (New, expanded ed.). New York: Nation Books. 2006. ISBN 9781560258285.
- Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2007. ISBN 9780520256569.
- A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster. New York: Penguin. 2010 . ISBN 9781101459010.
- Solnit, David; Solnit, Rebecca, eds. (2009). The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle. AK Press. ISBN 9781904859635.
- A California Bestiary. Illustrations by Mona Caron. Berkeley: Heyday Books. 2010. ISBN 9781597141253.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2010. ISBN 9780520262492.
- Dillon, Brian, ed. (2011). "The Ruins of Memory". Ruins. Documents of Contemporary Art. Volume 25, Issue 6. London; Cambridge, MA: Whitechapel Gallery; MIT Press. ISBN 9780854881932.
- The Faraway Nearby. New York: Penguin. 2013. ISBN 9781101622773.
- Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2013. ISBN 9780520262492.
- Men Explain Things to Me. Chicago: Haymarket Books. 2014. ISBN 9781608464579.
- The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness. San Antonio: Trinity University Press. 2014. ISBN 9781608464579.
- Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2016. ISBN 9780520285958.
- The Mother of All Questions. New York: Haymarket Books. 2017. ISBN 9781608467402.
- Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays). New York: Haymarket Books. 2018. ISBN 9781608469475.
- Drowned River: The Death & Rebirth of Glen Canyon on the Colorado. Radius Books. 2018. ISBN 9781942185253.
- Cinderella Liberator. Haymarket Books. 2019. ISBN 9781608465965.
- Whose Story Is This?. Haymarket Books. 2019. ISBN 9781642590180.
Essays and reporting
- Wiener, Jon (10 March 2017). "Rebecca Solnit: How Women Are Changing the World". ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved 2019-05-27 – via www.thenation.com.
- Peter Terzian (July–August 2007). "Room to Roam". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- Susanna Rustin (May 29, 2013). "Rebecca Solnit: a life in writing". The Guardian.
- Caitlin D. (September 4, 2014). "Why Can't I Be You: Rebecca Solnit". Rookie.
- Benson, Heidi (June 13, 2004). "Move Over, Joan Didion / Make room for Rebecca Solnit, California's newest cultural historian". SFGate.com. San Francisco.
- "Meet Our Alumni: College of Letters & Science - Authors". berkeley.edu. Regents of the University of California. 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-06-10.
- "Rebecca Solnit". tupress.org. Trinity University Press. 2014.
- Taylor, Astra (Fall 2009). "Rebecca Solnot". BOMB Magazine. Archived from the original on 2009-09-02. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
- Interviewers: Leslie Chang and Mike Osborne (August 9, 2013). "San Francisco, the island within an island". Generation Anthropocene. Season 5. 25:58 minutes in.
- Valenti, Jessica (June 6, 2014). "Mansplaining, explained: 'Just ask an expert. Who is not a lady'". The Guardian. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
- Lewis, Helen (June 4, 2014). "The Essay That Launched the Term "Mansplaining"". The New Republic. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
- Staff, MPR News. "Do we need a different word for 'mansplaining'?". Retrieved 2017-11-28.
- MEN EXPLAIN THINGS TO ME by Rebecca Solnit , Ana Teresa Fernandez | Kirkus Reviews.
- Solnit, Rebecca. Cinderella liberator. Rackham, Arthur, 1867-1939,. Chicago, IL. ISBN 9781608465965. OCLC 1057649455.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- "Opinion | Rebecca Solnit's updated Cinderella tale is an overdue reimagining". NBC News. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
- "The Wired Rave Award". Wired. April 2004. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
- "Rebecca Solnit: The Silver Cloud". Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- Critical Mass(January 13, 2014) "Announcing the 2014 Publishing Year Natinonal Book Awards." (Retrieved 4-13-14.)
- Kirsten Reach (January 14, 2014). "NBCC finalists announced". Melville House Publishing. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
- "Announcing the National Book Critics Awards Finalists for Publishing Year 2013". National Book Critics Circle. January 14, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
- "Hope's Rising Star". The Attic. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
- Garner, Dwight. "'A Paradise Built in Hell' by Rebecca Solnit". Retrieved 2018-07-29.
- National Book Critics Circle (2014). "All Past National Book Critics Circle Award Winners and Finalists". Retrieved December 26, 2014.
- Society for the History of Technology (2014). "The Hacker Prize, Recipients of the Sally Hacker Prize". Archived from the original on January 2, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2014.
- Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard (2014). "J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project". Retrieved December 26, 2014.
- "Rebecca Solnit, 2015–16". 2016. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
- "2018 Finalists". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2018-10-30.
- "Rebecca Solnit". Windham–Campbell Literature Prizes. March 12, 2019. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
- "Interview with Rebecca Solnit • Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments". Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments. 2012-03-22. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
- Gregory, Alice (2017-08-08). "How Rebecca Solnit Became the Voice of the Resistance". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
- Official website
- Works by or about Rebecca Solnit in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Rebecca Solnit at The Nation magazine
- Rebecca Solnit author page at TomDispatch.com
- Rebecca Solnit in the London Review of Books
- Rebecca Solnit in Harper's Magazine
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- New York Public Library conversation with Peter Coyote(2009)
- Interview With Rebecca Solnit by Padma Viswanathan in The Rumpus, August 7, 2009