Top 100 - 2011

Meghan O’Rourke

Meghan O’Rourke’s accomplishments are many. A graduate of Yale, she was a fiction/nonfiction editor at The New Yorker at 24 – making her one of the youngest editors in the history of the magazine. O’Rourke then became culture editor and literary critic for Slate, served as poetry editor of The Paris Review from 2005 -2010, and published her first book of poems, Halflife, in 2007. It received much critical acclaim and was a finalist for the Patterson Poetry Prize and Britain’s Forward Prize for best first collection.

The Long Goodbye, her first book of prose, was released April 14th. As eloquent and thoughtful as it is brave, The Long Goodbye is O’Rourke’s reflection on her mother’s battle with cancer and the strange, difficult months following her death. O’Rourke’s taxingly honest account of her experience of grief transcends the category of memoir as, in addition to sharing her personal story, she turns her critic’s eye to the question of what it means to lose someone and to grieve that loss in today’s culture. Her hope, as she said in an interview with Irish America, is to encourage a national dialogue about grief, so that Americans may consider how we grieve and how we sometimes help or hinder others as they grieve as well.

A Brooklyn native, O’Rourke still lives in the borough where she grew up and currently teaches at Princeton and at New York University.

Irish on both sides of her family, with roots in Counties Leitrim, Clare and Dublin, O’Rourke spent six months living in Dublin when she was in college.