Roger Rosenblatt (born 1940) is an American memoirist, essayist, and novelist. He was a long-time essayist for Time magazine and PBS NewsHour. He is currently the Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at Stony Brook University.
Roger Rosenblatt began writing professionally in his mid-30s, when he became literary editor and a columnist for The New Republic. Before that, he taught at Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D. In 1965–66 he was a Fulbright Scholar in Ireland. At age 25, he became the director of Harvard's freshman writing department. At age 28, he held the Briggs–Copeland appointment in the teaching of writing, and was Allston–Burr Senior Tutor, and later, Master of Dunster House. At age 29 he was the youngest House Master in Harvard's history. At Harvard, apart from creative writing, he taught Irish drama, modern poetry, and the university's first course in African American literature. In 2005 he was the Edward R. Murrow visiting professor at Harvard.
Before turning solely to literary work, he was a columnist on The Washington Post, during which time Washingtonian Magazine named him Best Columnist in Washington, and an essayist for the NewsHour on PBS. With Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil, he created the first essays ever done on television. In 1979 he became an essayist for Time magazine, a post that he held on and off until 2006. He continued to do TV essays for the NewsHour until that same year. His essays for Time won two George Polk Awards, awards from the Overseas Press Club, the American Bar Association, and others. His NewsHour essays won the Peabody Award and the Emmy. His Time cover essay, "A Letter to the Year 2086" was chosen for the time capsule placed inside the Statue of Liberty at its centennial.
In 2006 Rosenblatt left his positions at Time and the NewsHour and gave up journalism to devote his time to the writing of memoirs, novels and extended essays. His first novel, Lapham Rising, was a national bestseller. Making Toast was a New York Times bestseller. The memoir was a book-length version of an essay he wrote for the New Yorker magazine, on the death of his daughter, in 2008. He followed Making Toast with Unless It Moves the Human Heart, a book on the art and craft of writing, which was also a New York Times bestseller, as was Kayak Morning, a meditation on grief. The Boy Detective: A New York Childhood was published in 2013. The Book of Love: Improvisations on That Crazy Little Thing was published in January 2015. His most recent novel, Thomas Murphy, was published in January, 2016.
In total, he is the author of 18 books, which have been published in 14 languages. They include the national bestseller Rules for Aging; three collections of essays; and Children of War, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
He has also written six off-Broadway plays, including Ashley Montana Goes Ashore in the Caicos, and The Oldsmobiles, both produced at the Flea Theater. His comic one-man show, Free Speech in America, which he performed at the American Place Theater, was cited by the New York Times as one of the 10 best plays of 1991. In 2017, it was announced that his bestselling novel, Lapham Rising, would be adapted for the screen, with Rosenblatt penning the script. The film, directed by Charlie Kessler, is set to star Frank Langella, Kiernan Shipka, Kathryn Erbe, and Jared Gilman.
In his recent books, Rosenblatt has experimented with a form of narrative that connects section to section, without chapter demarcations, dismissing chronological time, and mixing fact and fiction. The effect he seeks is akin to movements in music. In his review of The Boy Detective in the New York Times Book Review, Pete Hamill compared Rosenblatt's style to that of "a great jazz musician...moving from one emotion to another, playing some with a dose of irony, others with joy, and a few with pain and melancholy (the blues, of course). Alone with the instrument of his art, he seems to be hoping only to surprise himself."
In 2008 he was appointed Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at Stony Brook University, where he currently teaches. In 2009 he was selected as one of three finalists for the Robert Cherry Award, given to the best university teacher in the country. Seven universities have awarded him honorary doctorates.
In November 2015, Rosenblatt received the 2015 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement. In June, 2016, he was awarded the President's Medal of the Chautauqua Institution for the artistic and moral quality of his body of work.
He has argued in a 1999 article for TIME magazine that guns should be banned.