Kotlowitz is perhaps best known for the bestselling There
Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the
Other America. The book, which was published in 1991
and has since sold over half-a-million copies, was the recipient
of numerous awards, including the Helen B. Bernstein Award for
Excellence in Journalism, the Carl Sandburg Award and a Christopher
Award. The New York Public Library selected There Are No Children
Here as one of the 150 most important books of the century.
In the fall of 1993, it was adapted for television as an ABC Movie-of-the-Week
starring Oprah Winfrey.
About Kotlowitz’s second book, The Other Side
of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death and America’s
Dilemma, The New York Times wrote: “Of
all the many books written about race in America in the past couple
of years, none has been quite like The Other Side of the River…It
is the difference between the two towns, one white, one black,
that anchors this story, give it its soul, and makes it important,
essential even, for the rest of us to contemplate.” The
book received The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize for
Non-Fiction and the Great Lakes Booksellers Award for Non-Fiction.
The paperback wrote a new afterword for the paperback.
Kotlowitz’s most recent book, Never a City So Real
(Crown), is a bit of a departure, a collection of contemporary
stories from Chicago, his adopted hometown. Kotlowitz views Chicago
as a kind of refuge for outsiders; it’s the people on the
outside who are trying to clean up – or at least make sense
of – the mess on the inside. Perspective doesn’t come
easy if you’re standing in the center.
Between books, Kotlowitz has contributed to The New York Times
Magazine, The New Yorker and public radio’s This
American Life. Over the past three years, he has produced
three collections of personal narratives for Chicago Public Radio:
Stories of Home, Love Stories and Stories of Money. Stories
of Home was awarded a Peabody. He has served as a correspondant
and writer for a Frontline documentary, Let’s Get Married,
as well as correspondant and writer for two pieces for PBS’s
Media Matters. His articles have also appeared
in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Rolling Stone,
The Atlantic and The New Republic. He is a writer-in-residence
at Northwestern University where he teaches two courses every
winter, and a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame
as the Welch Chair in American Studies where he teaches one course
every fall. He has also been a writer-in-residence at the
University of Chicago. Kotlowitz regularly gives public lectures.
Kotlowitz grew up in New York City. His father, Robert, is the
author of four novels and a memoir of World War II, Before
Their Time. His mother, Billie, who died in 1994, ran the
Thematic Studies Program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
His brother, Dan, is a professor of Theatrical Lighting Design
at Dartmouth. Kotlowitz graduated from Wesleyan University
in Middletown, Ct..
His first journalism job – after a yearlong stint on an
Oregon cattle ranch – was with a small alternative newsweekly
in Lansing, Michigan. After a year there, he freelanced for five
years, producing for The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour and
reporting for NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning
Edition. From 1984 to 1993, he was a staff writer at The
Wall Street Journal, writing on urban affairs and social
His journalism honors include the George Foster Peabody Award,
the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the George Polk Award.
He is the recipient of three honorary degrees and the John LaFarge
Memorial Award for Interracial Justice given by New York’s
Catholic Interracial Council.
He currently lives with his family just outside Chicago.