“Picoult has become a master—almost a clairvoyant—at targeting hot issues and writing highly readable page-turners about them.”
—The Washington Post
With a fluid and wide-ranging style, bestselling novelist Jodi Picoult has been compared to writers as diverse as Alice Hoffman, John Grisham, and Daphne du Maurier. In some two dozen novels, she examines important social issues that are as thought-provoking as they are divisive. Her fiction nods to many genres, including literary fiction, legal thrillers, psychological portraits, romances, and ghost stories, giving her readers a fresh experience with each book. Picoult has an estimated 40 million books in print. The past eleven of her novels have debuted at #1 on The New York Times bestseller list, and five of her books have been made into movies.
Picoult’s first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale, weaves five narrative voices into a story of love, loss, and self-discovery, which Publishers Weekly called a “powerful and affecting novel that demonstrates there are as many truths to a story as there are people to tell it.” Her critically acclaimed third book, Picture Perfect, is the story of an anthropologist trapped in a cycle of domestic abuse with her glamorous movie star husband. Library Journal praised the novel as “an important book from a talented writer we hope to hear from again and again.” In My Sister’s Keeper, Picoult tells the story of a thirteen-year-old, Anna, who was conceived by her parents specifically as a bone-marrow donor for her sister Kate, who has leukemia. The novel focuses on Anna’s search for identity in a life that was predetermined by her genetic ability to help her sister. Kirkus declared that Picoult “vividly evokes the physical and psychic toll a desperately sick child imposes on a family, even a close and loving one.” Her novel Nineteen Minutes was the winner of the NH Library Association’s Flume Award and winner of the Iowa HS Book Award. Entertainment Weekly called it “vintage Picoult, expertly crafted, thought-provoking, and compelling” and gave it an A grade.
Small Great Things, “one of the hardest” books yet for her to write, explores racism in America through the lens of a tragic incident at a Connecticut hospital. “I really had to explore my own beliefs and my own biases and learn a lot about myself and privileges that I’ve had that I’d never noticed before,” she told People. The Washington Post praised the novel as “the most important novel Jodi Picoult has ever written.”
Another instant New York Times #1 bestseller, A Spark of Light is a powerful and provocative novel about reproductive rights set during a hostage situation at a women’s health clinic. The Star-Tribune called it “a courageous and important work” and The Washington Post praised it as “Picoult at her fearless best… Timely, balanced, and certain to inspired debate.” A Spark of Light will be adapted into a limited television series by Sony Pictures TV starring Joey King.
Picoult’s latest is The Book of Two Ways, a novel about life, death, love, and the choices that shape the course of a life. Taking its name from the ancient Egyptian map of the afterlife the book follows a woman whose contented existence is shaken following a near-death experience. The Washington Post calls The Book of Two Ways a “powerful story about heart-wrenching moral choices”.
Between the Lines, Picoult’s first YA novel co-written with her daughter Samantha van Leer, was adapted into a musical that received its world premiere at Kansas City Repertory Theatre in 2017. The play was slated to debut Off-Broadway in 2020 and has been postponed until following the COVID-19 pandemic. Picoult also wrote the musical adaptation of Markus Zusak’s novel The Book Thief, slated to play at London’s Octagon Theatre. The outbreak of the pandemic not only upended theater projects already in the works, but inspired Picoult to create, along with co-librettist Tim McDonald, a new musical Breathe. Written as the pandemic unfolded, Breathe follows five couples grappling with the virus’s impact on their lives, families, relationships, society, and health. The musical will make its virtual debut in May 2021 and stars Tony-winners Kelli O’Hara and Brian Stokes-Mitchell.
In 2003, Picoult was awarded the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction. She has also received an Alex Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association, the BookBrowse Diamond Award for novel of the year, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, Cosmopolitan’s Fun Fearless Fiction Award, Waterstone’s Author of the Year in the UK, a Vermont Green Mountain Book Award, a NH Granite State Book Award, a Virginia Reader’s Choice Award, the Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award, and a Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award. Picoult was the 2013-14 recipient of the New Hampshire Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit and the 2019 Sarah Josepha Hale Award. She received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Dartmouth College in 2010 and another from the University of New Haven in 2012.
She, her husband Tim, and their three children live in Hanover, New Hampshire with a Springer spaniel, two rescue puppies, two donkeys, ten chickens, and the occasional Holstein.