Jean Hanff Korelitz author photo.jpg

Jean Hanff Korelitz was born and raised in New York City and educated at Dartmouth College and Clare College, Cambridge. She is the author of six novels: The Devil and WebsterYou Should Have Known (Coming to HBO in spring 2020 as “The Undoing,” written by David E. Kelley, directed by Susanne Bier and starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant and Donald Sutherland), Admission (adapted as the 2013 film of the same name, starring Tina Fey, Lily Tomlin and Paul Rudd), The White Rose, The Sabbathday River and A Jury of Her Peers, as well as a middle-grade reader, Interference Powder, and a collection of poetry, The Properties of Breath

With Paul Muldoon she adapted James Joyce’s “The Dead” as an immersive theatrical event, THE DEAD, 1904. The play was produced by Dot Dot Productions, LLC, for the Irish Repertory Theatre and performed at New York's American Irish Historical Society for seven week runs in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Korelitz is the founder of BOOKTHEWRITER, a New York City based service that offers "Pop-Up Book Groups" where readers can discuss books with their authors.

She and her husband, Irish poet Paul Muldoon, are the parents of two children and live in New York City.




As someone who’s written at some length about college admissions, I’ve followed the unfolding #VarsityBlues scandal with great interest. I also recently watched @fareedzakaria’s #SchemeAndScandal on CNN, and I have some thoughts.

First, anyone who wants to truly understand the current admissions landscape should read Jerome Karabel’s THE CHOSEN: THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF ADMISSION AND EXCLUSION AT HARVARD, YALE, AND PRINCETON, as I did when I was writing ADMISSION. Looking at the current configuration without being able to place it in a historical context is not useful.

Second, colleges should discontinue designated admits and recruiting for sports that are generally not offered in public schools: Equestrian, sailing, golf, skiing, lacrosse, etc. (Though these sports can certainly still be played, even at the college level.)

Third, legacy applicants (and their parents) are not the villains of this story. Alumni loyalty flows in both directions, as it should, and children of graduates are often spectacular applicants, HOWEVER, advantaged admission for legacy applicants should be capped at a set quota, with only the most competitive within that pool admitted. Those not so admitted should join the regular applicant pool with no earmark for legacy status.

Finally, for a holistic reset of the entire process, students should not apply to college until they have been out of high school for one year, and should not begin college until two years after graduation. This puts the application process into the students’ hands and allows for more mature and focused applicants who are really ready to go to college and study (as opposed to party). It also makes parents less central, less involved, and hopefully less competitive.

“Fair” is a malleable concept, in this as in most settings. People who bemoan the “brokenness” of college admissions must understand that the system, implemented by well meaning, usually very idealistic, human beings in a constantly shifting social and cultural landscape, are doing their best to fulfill their responsibilities to the institutions they serve. The vast majority of applicants are hugely qualified, and no matter how decisions are made, deserving and capable young people of every conceivable ethnicity and background will still be rejected. No adjustments to the process will ever change that fact.

Those are my thoughts.

7/21/19 NICOLE KIDMAN’s “The Undoing” (based on my novel “You Should Have Known”) is “what to watch when ‘Big Little Lies’ ends” HarpersBazaar

5/20/19 HENRY ALFORD’S recent story about book groups for The New York Times featured BOOKTHEWRITER.

3/1/19 Just out from Conde Nast Traveler, my article about visiting Washington’s Vashon Island in search of the author of “The Egg and I”, BETTY MACDONALD.

1/10/19 Such a nice story from LitHub about THE DEAD, 1904, my adaptation (with PAUL MULDOON) of JAMES JOYCE’s “The Dead”. (And speaking of which, thank you STEPHEN COLBERT and KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY for saying such kind things about our show on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert!)

3/13/18 DAVID E. KELLEY will adapt YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN as a limited series for HBO with NICOLE KIDMAN and HUGH GRANT attached to star. Read more about it here.

2/20/18 PUBLICATION DATE for the paperback edition of THE DEVIL AND WEBSTER will be March 20th, 2018. Order it here.

1/19/18 Very happy to report that THE DEVIL AND WEBSTER has been long listed for the first Aspen Words Literary Prize. Read more about it here.