Norah Vincent
Bestselling Author Cultural CriticJournalist

Immersion journalist and novelist Norah Vincent is admired by readers for her fearless voice and uncompromising inquiry into social structures. In 2003, dissatisfied with conventional research methods, she took a leave from writing her nationally-syndicated political opinion column to spend eighteen months living, working, and dating while disguised as a man. Those experiences inspired her first book, The New York Times bestseller Self-Made Man.

Courageous, perceptive, and endlessly fascinating, Self-Made Man is one woman’s secret window into male life: a men’s bowling league, a high-profile sales job, dates with women (and men), strip clubs—even a men’s therapy group and a monastery. With a carefully applied five o’clock shadow, wire-rimmed glasses, a snug sports bra, and her own size 11½ shoes, Norah Vincent spent a year and a half as her alter ego, Ned. The result is a thrilling tour de force of immersion journalism that produces profound and surprising insights into the complex social constructions of gender, sexuality, and identity.

“A thoughtful, entertaining piece of first-person investigative journalism. Though there’s plenty of humor in Self-Made Man, Vincent – like her spiritual forbear John Howard Griffin…- treats her self-imposed assignment seriously, not as a stunt….Self-Made Man transcends its premise altogether, offering not an undercover woman’s take on male experience, but simply a fascinating, fly-on-the wall look at various unglamorous male milieus that are well off the radar of most journalists and book authors…So rich and so audacious…[I was] hooked from Page 1.”

David Kamp, The New York Times Book Review

After eighteen months living as a man, however, Vincent became severely depressed. Feeling she was a danger to herself, she committed herself to a mental institution. This raw and overwhelming experience is the subject of her second book, Voluntary Madness. Vincent’s situation allowed her to study the effects of treatment on the depressed and insane from inside a mental institution—all while struggling with her own profound symptoms. The result is a book that Booklist calls “riveting and enlightening.”

Vincent’s journey takes her from a big city hospital to a facility in the Midwest and finally to an upscale retreat in the American south. Along the way, she analyzes the impact of institutionalization on the unwell, the tyranny of drugs-as-treatment, and the dysfunctional dynamic between caregivers and patients. With brilliant insight and unflinching introspection, Vincent explores the range of individuals and philosophies that shape these bizarre and sometimes frightening institutions. Revealing, emotionally wrenching, and often hilarious, Voluntary Madness exposes the state of mental healthcare in America from the inside out.

With her most recent book, Thy Neighbor, Vincent brings her provocative and candid voice to fiction. A novel of surprising twists and turns, at once unsettling, moving, and wickedly funny, Thy Neighbor explores the nature of grief; the blankness, strangeness, and potential isolation of suburban life; and who we really are when we think no one is watching.

“Norah Vincent will make you laugh while she is breaking your heart, and make you feel pity as you recoil in disgust. At once a misanthropic rant, a voyeuristic free-for-all, and a philosophic thriller, Thy Neighbor is a book that you will tear through in a few days and chew on for a long time thereafter. It’s a heady and wonderful read.”

—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

Vincent was a weekly columnist for The Los Angeles Times and a quarterly columnist on politics and culture column for the national gay and lesbian newsmagazine The Advocate. She has also been a columnist for The Village Voice and Salon.com. Her writing has appeared in The New Republic, The New York Times, The New York Post, The Washington Post and many more periodicals around the country. She is currently at work on her latest book, Adeline, a novel of Virginia Woolf and her social circle, the infamous Bloomsbury Group.


Norah Vincent holds a bachelor's degree in Philosophy from Williams College and resides in New York City.

Books

  • Adeline (forthcoming April 2015, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Thy Neighbor (Viking Adult, 2012)
  • Voluntary Madness (Viking Adult, 2008)
  • Self-Made Man (Viking Adult, 2006)
Media



[Norah Vincent is] the new Steinem.

William Safire, The New York Times



Vincent’s account of how she ‘became’ a man is undeniably fascinating.

Los Angeles Times Book World



Moving and often illuminating….Self-Made Man is an exhilarating book.

Joyce Carol Oates, The Times Literary Supplement



Eye-opening….While the side effects of Vincent’s experiment are fascinating, it is her field reporting from Planet Guy that holds the most novelty.  Self-Made Man will make many women think twice about coveting male ‘privilege’ and make any man feel grateful that his gender burden is better understood.

Washington Post



Empathetic, explosive insights.

New York Post



The experiences she describes in her sharp, often poignant prose are page-turningly compelling.

Baltimore Sun



“This isn’t a we-are-the-world book in which Vincent rejoices in our common humanity.  It’s too subtle for that, too smart and too honest.”

Time Magazine



“If there’s a more interesting book on the market today, we don’t know what it is.”

Austin American-Statesman