"War doesn't hold a candle to a hospital room shared with one headstrong teen, two newborns, three bagfuls of rotting McDonald's fries, a torn perineum, and a Montel Williams rerun played at 150 decibels."
- from Hell is Other Parents
Deborah Copaken Kogan began her career as a Paris-based photojournalist, covering conflicts in such war-torn areas as Afghanistan, Israel, and the former Soviet Union from 1988 to 1992, the subject of her best-selling memoir Shutterbabe. She then spent six years as an Emmy Award-winning television producer, first for ABC News, then at Dateline NBC. Her writing, photography, and documentary work have since appeared in many places, including the New Yorker and the New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, and on CNN. When she moved to Manhattan to raise a family and write, she thought she'd left war battlefields behind. She was wrong. Hell is Other Parents (Hyperion) is a witty, sanguine - and at times, laugh-out-loud - romp through the landmines of modern working parenthood, as Kogan continually finds herself at odds with the competitive, aggressive, and sometimes woefully misguided helicopter parents in her midst. The Red Book (Hyperion), is Kogan's wry, lively, and irresistible new novel about a once-close circle of friends at their twentieth college reunion. A frequent performer with the New York-based storytelling group, The Moth, and with the LA-based comedy troupe, Afterbirth, she lectures at colleges and universities throughout the US.
The Red Book follows Clover, Addison, Mia, and Jane -- roommates at Harvard until their graduation in 1989. Clover, homeschooled on a commune by mixed-race parents, felt woefully out of place. Addison yearned to shed the burden of her Mayflower heritage. Mia mined the depths of her suburban ennui to enact brilliant performances on the Harvard stage. Jane, an adopted Vietnamese war orphan, made sense of her fractured world through words. Twenty years later, their lives are in free fall. Clover, once a securities broker with Lehman, is out of a job and struggling to reproduce before her fertility window slams shut. Addison's marriage to a writer's-blocked novelist is as stale as her so-called career as a painter. Hollywood shut its gold-plated gates to Mia, who now stays home with her four children, renovating and acquiring faster than her director husband can pay the bills. Jane, the Paris bureau chief for a newspaper whose foreign bureaus are now shuttered, is caught in a vortex of loss. Like all Harvard grads, they've kept abreast of one another via the red book, a class report published every five years, containing brief autobiographical essays by fellow alumni. But there's the story we tell the world, and then there's the real story, as these former classmates will learn during their twentieth reunion weekend, when they arrive with their families, their histories, their dashed dreams, and their secret yearnings to a relationship-changing, score-settling, unforgettable weekend.
Kogan began her professional career as a teenager, writing book reviews and essays for Seventeen, as well as acting in the film Key Exchange. After graduating from Harvard in 1988, she moved to Paris and worked for several years as a photojournalist, shooting conflicts and upheavals in such regions as Afghanistan, Israel, Romania, Zimbabwe, and the Soviet Union, as well as documenting, both in the US and abroad, the every day violence of girl gangs, street crime, and drug addiction for publications such as Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, Photo, Stern, Geo, L'Express, Libération, and Paris Match. Her award-winning photographs have been exhibited in galleries in Paris and Perpignan, France, as well as in Cargese, Corsica, New York City, and Cambridge, MA.
After retiring from combat photography, she spent the next six years producing television news, first for ABC News' Day One, where she received an Emmy, then as a producer for Dateline NBC. She then returned to writing full time, publishing her best-selling memoir, Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War (Random House 2002), which won a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award and is being adapted for the screen by the producers of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and director Jose Padilha (Elite Squad), as well as contributing articles and essays to publications such as The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, the New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, Self, Elle, Paris Match, and The Huffington Post. She shot a documentary for CNN on her trip to Pakistan with her then six-year-old son in the wake of 9/11.
Kogan still works as a professional portrait photographer, and her TV pilot, "The Good Egg," is currently in pre-production with The New York Office. Her first novel, Between Here and April, was published in October of 2008 to great critical acclaim, winning the Elle Readers Prize in November. She lives in Harlem, NY with her husband and three children.
Praise for The Red Book:
"The Big Chill for the Facebook generation."
-- Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon
"Striking, funny, sad, and true-to-life, The Red Book sweeps us into the intersecting lives of characters who all started their adult lives in the same place, but upon whom time works both its magic and its entropy. Deborah Copaken Kogan is a deeply feeling writer, and this novel is a joy to read."
-- Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion
"I gobbled up The Red Book in two days, ignoring my work, my family, my life, so immersed was I in the lives of the people Deborah Copaken Kogan has so masterfully brought to life. Kogan's eye is at once wry and empathetic, and the book is a delight."
-- Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road
"The Red Book, which is filled with Deborah Copaken Kogan's smart take on everything from friendship to sex to child raising to getting over the past -- or not -- makes for old-school compulsive reading."
-- Meg Wolitzer, author of The Uncoupling
Praise for Hell is Other Parents:
"Kogan goes where no mom has gone before in these hilarious and affecting tales of motherhood and marriage, Manhattan style."
-- Darren Star, writer and producer of Sex and the City
"Deborah Kogan is not afraid to show her anxieties, her vanities, her deepest desires. The result is a hilarious ride - a mother's high-wire balancing act - that I wouldn't have dared miss."
-- Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics
"Kogan writes with verve, warmth, and passion about the complexities of parenting, her love for her children, and all the comedies and melodramas that the complexities and the love together make us perform."
-- Adam Gopnik, author of Through the Children's Gate
"For anyone who's ever been a parent, had a parent, or wanted to choke a parent, Deborah Kogan's book is for you. With obscenely funny, dead-on insights, this book is so close to my heart I want to put in a locket and wear it around my neck."
-- Julie Klam, author of Please Excuse My Daughter
"Brave, funny, and charged with equal measures of regret and joy - her stories will resonate with anyone who has ever changed a diaper or comforted a weeping child."
-- Tad Friend, author of Cheerful Money
"This is the stuff of life. Okay, maybe not the stuff of your life, but luckily for us, though maybe not always for Deborah Copaken Kogan, it is the stuff of her life, and she has made it delightful stuff to read about."
-- Patty Marx, who is not a parent so don't blame her; author of Him Her Him Again The End of Him
"Kogan is a wonderfully clear, intelligent writer . . . All in all, [Hell Is Other Parents is] a smart, thoughtful and, yes, very funny read worth every penny of its price."
-- Shelf Awareness
"Kogan's essays are witty and smart . . . readers will find plenty to ponder and laugh about as they follow this self-described 'laissez-faire' parent on the challenging assignment of raising three kids."
-- Publishers Weekly