HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Brad Gooch

Poet, Novelist, & Biographer


  • Rumi
  • Flannery O'Connor
  • Frank O'Hara
  • Writing Biography
  • Writing Memoir ("Smash Cut")
  • Writing About Religion & Spirituality
  • Gay Life in NYC in the 70s and 80s
  • Travel Writing


New York
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Brad Gooch is a poet, novelist, and biographer, whose most recent book is Rumi's Secret: The Life of the Sufi Poet of Love (Harper).

In the breakthrough biography, Rumi’s Secret, Gooch brilliantly brings to life the man and puts a face to the name Rumi, vividly coloring in his time and place—a world as rife with conflict as our own. Ambitious, bold, and beautifully written, Rumi’s Secret reveals the unfolding of Rumi’s devotion to a "religion of love," remarkable in his own time and made even more relevant for the twenty-first century by this compelling account.

Gooch’s previous ten books include: Smash Cut: A Memoir of Howard & Art & The 70s and the 80s (Harper); Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and a New York Times bestseller; City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O'Hara (Harper), as well as Godtalk: Travels in Spiritual America; three novels--Scary KissesThe Golden Age of PromiscuityZombie00; a collection of stories, Jailbait and other Stories, chosen by Donald Barthelme for a Writer’s Choice Award; a collection of poems, The Daily News; and Finding the Boyfriend Within and Dating the Greek Gods.

His work has been featured in numerous magazines including: The New RepublicThe New YorkerVanity FairNew York MagazineTravel and LeisurePartisan Review, The Paris ReviewThe Los Angeles Times Book ReviewArt ForumHarper’s BazaarThe Nation, and The Daily Beast.

A Guggenheim fellow in Biography, Gooch has received a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, and a Furthermore grant in publishing from the J.M. Kaplan Fund. A professor of English at William Paterson University, he earned his PhD at Columbia University, and lives in New York City.

Praise for Rumi’s Secret:

“A dazzling feat of scholarship…the book restores Rumi to the glories and hardships of his momentous age.”
--Washington Post

“Profound, important….flows with the ease of good fiction….Rumi’s Secret offers an expanded view of the 13th – century poet.”
--Christian Science Monitor

“Gooch’s biography brings the political and intellectual tumult of the early medieval era to life, producing vivid characters and memorable portraits of urban experience…a sensitive and passionate introduction.”
--New York Times Book Review

“A biography that is painstaking enough to withstand scholarly scrutiny without losing the compelling storyline.”
--Lion’s Roar

“Their friendship transformed Rumi’s life, and transports this biography into an exquisite, joyous realm.”
--New Yorker

“Brad Gooch brilliantly pins both the life of the spirit and the magic of the poet to the page in this intimate, entrancing, sumptuous biography. Flutes play, goldsmiths hammer, silver bells jingle in camel ears -- and Rumi’s lush music washes over the reader. “Everyone is born once. I have been born many times,” wrote the Persian poet. Never before like this.”
--Stacy Schiff, Author of The Witches and Cleopatra

“Extraordinary… Brad Gooch’s fine, searching biography, “Rumi’s Secret,” will fascinate his subject’s many admirers. We will never fully know Rumi, but thanks to Mr. Gooch, we know him better.”
--The Wall Street Journal

“An excellent and accessible introduction to the profound and generous mystical vision of Rumi that will give Western readers a much needed insight into the true spirituality of Islam.”
--Karen Armstrong, Author of A History of God and Muhammad

“Rumi’s life in this telling is as compelling as his poetry. Rumi’s Secret is a beautiful and relevant book.”
--Reza Aslan, author of No god but God and Zealot

“…a wondrous groundbreaking book….Never have we known Rumi this intimately or understood the life behind the verse so well. Brad Gooch moves elegantly between storytelling, the psychologies of relationships, and evocative criticism….His graceful prose is charged with luminous details: the sounds, the sights, the very feel of these worlds, and how they generated Rumi’s ecstatic yet practical verse. With Rumi’s Secret, Gooch has not only set another high-water mark in literary biography, he has given the fullness of Rumi to us at a moment when we need him more than ever.”
--Harvard Review

“Brad Gooch unfolds the secret of Rumi’s art, mapping the transformation of Rumi’s life-experiences into his poems. Friendship, poetry, and spirituality intertwine into a felt experience for readers. Before we know it, Rumi has caught us up in his own experience and we are changed.”
--Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of The Cordoba Initiative

“This is a monumental book, an illumination, an achievement worthy of Rumi’s remarkable journey and lasting influence. May it dance its way to a wide audience, changing lives and bridging cultures, as Mevlana himself did.”
--Eboo Patel, author of Acts of Faith

“Suffice it to say, it’s Brad Gooch who holds the key to Rumi’s Secret.”
--Vanity Fair: Hot Type

“In these deeply divisive times, it matters more than ever to deepen our understanding of the roots of sacred Islam, and this deeply researched and highly literary biography of Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, is at once prescriptive and enlivening.”
--Chicago Tribune

Praise for Smash Cut:

“The fact that a writer of Brad Gooch’s significance has been witness to remarkable events and people, and has written about them, is a genuine gift to the world. Smash Cut is a beautiful and important book.”
--Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize winning author

“A gorgeous memoir...a potent mix of love, art, and death.”
--Vanity Fair

“That Gooch is a splendid writer will not be left in doubt for anyone who delves into his new memoir. . . . Literary memoirs abound; this one excels in beautiful honesty.”
--Booklist (starred review)

“Brad Gooch’s story is harrowingly honest written with love and in grief, a deftly articulated insightful history that is at once personal and deeply resonant. Brave and powerful--I couldn’t put it down.”
--A.M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven

“So glamorous, so sexy, and so devastating, this love story will be the gay picture of the 70s/80s. That it took place between two beautiful, talented young men only makes it the more romantic and poignant.”
--Edmund White, author of CITY BOY

“Far more than a memoir, Smash Cut is a bold and tender anatomy of love in an age of ambition, art, and changing light.”
--Brenda Wineapple

“Smash Cut is a love story, an elegy, an intimate history written with enormous grace by a novelist and poet, who is also a master biographer.”
--Honor Moore, author of The Bishop's Daughter

“Gooch brings the city to life with all its promise and possibility. A personal, intimate look at our country’s creative history that will also keep you up all night and make you see the city in a new way.”
--Susan Cheever

“Engrossing, intimate. . . . This candid memoir lovingly evokes a life, and a world, lost.”
--Kirkus Reviews

“Like everyone who ever met Brad, I fell instantly in love. If YOU’VE not met him, reading this book will be the next best thing.”
--Andrew Tobias, author of The Best Little Boy in the World

“In Gooch’s visceral, gut-punching narrative, the arrival of AIDS turns the city into a cemetery... This is a memoir that needs to be read by those who remember and those who never knew.”
--Interview Magazine

“It is both unparalleled in its intimacy, focusing on his romance with the filmmaker Howard Brookner, and its universality, as a testament to the havoc wreaked by the AIDS pandemic, something he witnessed firsthand in Brookner’s decline and eventual death in 1989.”

“A powerful, poignant and especially frank memoir. . . Rife with humor, glamour, audacity and tragedy, Smash Cut is a witty, whimsical portrait of art and artists from an unforgettable time period.”
--Edge Media

“In his memoir Smash Cut, Gooch traces the life of ‘70s and ‘80s New York with the same fashionable tongue of a literary connoisseur, approaching the details of his life with humour and poignancy.”
--Pop Matters

“Gooch has documented his life... with unselfconscious ease that makes his memoir a literary achievement more than a simple biography... It’s short but impactful, like a poem you didn’t realize you’d been waiting your whole life to read and stumbled across by chance.”
--Boy Culture

“Acclaimed literary biographer Brad Gooch turns to the contours of his own life, particularly his romance with film director Howard Brookner, in this brave and intimate memoir... The elegiac book traces complex terrains of sex and drugs, ambition and love, and art and mortality with tender honesty.”

“Smash Cut is an eloquent, deeply felt exploration of love and ambition in dangerous times. . . Smash Cut [is] a moving, memorable and important book.”
--Miami Herald

“Gooch is a cool witness to the era’s excess and his own conflicting behavior; his quiet honesty is bold. Smash Cut is a love story and an elegy. It’s heady, sexy, heartbreaking, and most notably, even in the face of death, written not from anger, but love.”
--Bay Area Reporter

“Gooch excels when reporting on the cruelty wrought by H.I.V. that would eventually take Brookner’s life-and on the complexity of a relationship that defied category.”
--New York Times Book Review