Jeff Sharlet is the nationally bestselling author of THE FAMILY (2008), described by Barbara Ehrenreich as “one of the most compelling and brilliantly researched exposes you’ll ever read.” His most recent book is SWEET HEAVEN WHEN I DIE (2011). “This book belongs in the tradition of long-form, narrative nonfiction best exemplified by Joan Didion, John McPhee [and] Norman Mailer,” declares The Washington Post. “Sharlet deserves a place alongside such masters.” Excerpts from Sharlet’s 2010 book, C STREET received the Molly Ivins Prize, the Thomas Jefferson Award, the Outspoken Award, and the first and second place features prizes from the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. In 2015 an article for GQ by Sharlet, “Inside the Iron Closet,” received the National Magazine Award for Reporting. His greatest distinction remains Ann Coulter’s designation of him as one of the stupidest journalists in America.
Sharlet is associate professor of English at Dartmouth, the college’s first tenured professor of creative nonfiction, and a contributing editor for Harper’s Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Virginia Quarterly Review. He began writing in 1990 at Hampshire College as a student of Michael Lesy, author of Wisconsin Death Trip, and continued at the San Diego Reader, as editor of Pakn Treger, the world’s only English-language glossy magazine about Yiddish culture, and as a senior humanities writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education. In 2000, Sharlet teamed up with novelist Peter Manseau to create KillingTheBuddha.com, which has since become an award-winning online literary magazine about religion and culture. That led to a year on the road for Sharlet and Manseau, investigating the varieties of religious experience in America, including a cowboy church in Texas, witches in Kansas, a Pentecostal exorcism for a terrorist in North Carolina, an electric chair gospel choir in Florida. Publishers Weekly described the book that resulted, KILLING THE BUDDHA (Free Press, 2004), as “perhaps the most original and insightful spiritual writing to come out of America since Jack Kerouac first hit the road.” In 2009, Sharlet and Manseau collected the best of Killing the Buddha, the magazine, into BELIEVER, BEWARE, which Pop Matters described as a book of “cumulative power… it’s easy to imagine these essays as a film by Errol Morris, or as episodes of This American Life.” In 2014 Sharlet edited an anthology of literary journalism, RADIANT TRUTHS, published by Yale University Press. “Rare is the collection of other people’s writings that coheres into something new and original,” writes Jonathan Kirsch in The Los Angeles Review of Books. “Rarer still is one that takes on meaning because we read it through the eyes of the collector. RADIANT TRUTHS is that rarity.”
From 2003 to 2009, Sharlet was a research scholar at New York University’s Center for Religion and Media. He has spoken at universities across the world, including Yale, Princeton, Columbia, the University of Virginia, the Universität Potsdam, the American University of Paris, and and the Yale-NUS College in Singapore, and has received grants and fellowships from the Pew Charitable Trust, the Blue Mountain Center, The Nation Institute, the Kopkind Foundation, and The MacDowell Colony, which has named him a Stanley Calderwood Fellow and a New Hampshire Committee Fellow. His writing on music was selected for the Da Capo’s annual BEST MUSIC WRITING volumes in 2004 and 2008. He has also written for GQ, Mother Jones, New York, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, The New Republic, New Statesman, The Washington Post, Salon, Daily Beast, Advocate, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Columbia Journalism Review, Oxford American, Lapham’s Quarterly, The Baffler, and The Forward. He’s been a frequent guest on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show and NPR’s “Fresh Air,” and has appeared on HBO’s Bill Maher Show, Comedy Central’s Daily Show, NBC Nightly News, CNN, NPR, BBC, and other media venues.