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Author, Journalist; Staff Writer, The New Yorker

Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Visitor - Class of Spring 2012

Calvin Trillin is an acclaimed American author, humorist, and journalist who has been writing for the New Yorker for over five decades.


Trillin was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from Yale in 1957, joined the US Army for a stint, and then joined Time. After a year covering the South from the Atlanta bureau, he became a writer for Time in New York. In 1963, he became a staff writer for the New Yorker. From 1967 to 1982 he produced a highly praised series of articles for the New Yorker called “US Journal,” which were 3,000-word articles every three weeks from somewhere in the United States, on subjects that ranged from the murder of a farmer’s wife in Iowa to the author’s effort to write the definitive history of a Louisiana restaurant called Didee’s “or to eat an awful lot of baked duck and dirty rice trying.” Some of the murder stories from that series were published in 1984 as Killings. From 1978 through 1985, Trillin was a columnist for The Nation. From 1986 through 1995, his column was syndicated to newspapers. From 1996 to 2001, Trillin did a column for Time. His columns have been collected in five books. Since 1990 he has written a piece of comic verse weekly for The Nation. His books of what he calls “deadline poetry” – most recently, Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme – have all been New York Times bestsellers.


Trillin’s books have included three comic novels and a collection of short stories and a travel book and an account of the desegregation of the University of Georgia. Three of his antic books on eating — American Fried, Alice, Let’s Eat, and Third Helpings — were compiled in 1994 into a single volume called The Tummy Trilogy. He lectures widely, and has appeared often as a guest on television. Trillin has written and presented two critically acclaimed one-man shows at the American Place Theater in New York.


Trillin is a trustee of the New York Public Library, a former trustee of Yale University, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York City.

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