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Nick McDonell

Nick McDonell, January 4, 2006
Born February 18, 1984 (1984-02-18) (age 25)
Manhattan, New York, United States
Occupation author

Robert Nicholas "Nick" McDonell (born February 18, 1984) is an American writer.


Life and career

McDonell was born in Manhattan. He attended the Buckley School (New York City), the Riverdale Country School, and graduated from Harvard College in January 2007.


He wrote the novel Twelve in 2002, at age 17. The subject of the novel is disaffection, despair, drug use and violence among a group of wealthy Manhattan teenagers during Christmas break. The publication of McDonell's novel at such a young age was the subject of many articles in high-profile publications such The New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly.

"Twelve" was compared to Jay McInerney's debut novel "Bright Lights, Big City" and Bret Easton Ellis' "Less Than Zero".

Twelve has been translated into over twenty languages, was on all major American best-seller lists, UK bestseller lists and was number one on German bestseller lists. Twelve the movie, directed by Joel Shumacher starring Kiefer Sutherland and Chace Crawford is scheduled for release in 2010.

The Third Brother

Also published in the UK and translated into many languages, Nick McDonell's second novel, The Third Brother (ISBN 0-8021-1802-X), was released in September 2005. The New York Times called it "a haunting tale of brotherly love." It is divided into three parts: First it describes the 19 year old protagonist Mike on a revelatory assignment in Bangkok.[Mike is working for an old friend of his father. McDonell interned for Karl Taro Greenfeld of Time Asia. Greenfeld later worked for McDonell's father at Sports Illustrated.] The second part of the novel takes place on September 11 as Mike searches for his brother and the last part is about Mike returning to college after tragedy strikes his family.

Suggestions of Nepotism

Both McDonell’s parents are writers and editors. His mother Joan McDonell is a novelist and screenwriter. His father, Terry McDonell is editor of Sports Illustrated and was once managing editor of Rolling Stone where Hunter Thompson was a contributing editor and a friend. Thompson gave a quote to McDonell when Twelve was published, as did Richard Price and Joan Didion, both personal friends of the family. Morgan Entrekin president and publisher of Grove/Atlantic which published the book is close to the family as well.


Referring to his next book, Jennifer Egan in The New York Times Book Review wrote, “In ‘The Third Brother,’ McDonell delivers another remarkable novel.” The first pre-publication review of McDonell’s third novel “An Expensive Education,” appeared in Publisher’s Weekly where it was compared to “le Carre’s better works.” McDonell has also proven himself with his book “La Guerre a Harvard” published in France in 2009, and articles from Darfur for Harper’s Magazine 2009, and for Time from Iraq.

An Expensive Education

With the publication in August, 2009 of his third novel, An Expensive Education, reviewers compared McDonell to Graham Greene and Le Carre. recommended the novel and all three of McDonell's books were praised in a profile which appeared in The New York Times on August 2, 2009. The review in The Washington Post on August 12, 2009 said: "Now 25, McDonell has reached an age at which it is not so freakish to write a good book which is fortunate because he has done it again." The review goes on to say, "As he's shown in his previous novels he can be a ruthless chronicler of America's aristocratic culture." And: "One of the fascinations of this novel is how effectively it tracks distant events that resonate with one another around the world."

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