Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat, Pray, Love has been called “a generation’s instruction manual” by the Toronto Sun. Exploding onto the scene in 2006, the bestseller famously chronicled the year Gilbert spent traveling the world after a shattering divorce. Translated into more than 30 languages, Eat, Pray, Love has sold over ten million copies worldwide. The book—which The New York Times Book Review says is “fueled by a mix of intelligence, wit, and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible”—catapulted its author from respected but little-recognized writer to a woman Oprah Winfrey has called a “rock star author.”
Educated at New York University, Elizabeth Gilbert hails from an ascetic childhood in rural Connecticut. Fearless reporting skills and an abiding appreciation for working-class values have colored her writing from the beginning. Meanwhile, a persistent longing to understand the world and her place in it have made her not merely a writer, but an explorer. Gilbert worked in a Philadelphia diner, on a western ranch and in a New York City bar to scrape together the funds to travel: “to create experiences to write about, gather landscapes and voices.” Gilbert’s writing was published in Harper’s Bazaar, Spin, and The New York Times Magazine. Her work in Spin caught the attention of editors at GQ, and she became a stalwart at that publication, producing vivid, provocative pieces that soon grew into books and even a film: 2000’s Coyote Ugly. Gilbert was a Finalist for the National Magazine Award, and her work was anthologized in Best American Writing 2001.
Gilbert’s first book, a wide-ranging collection of short fiction called Pilgrims, was a New York Times Most Notable Book and won the Ploughshares prize, among many other honors. Her first novel, Stern Men, won the Kate Chopin Award in 2001. Her third book, The Last American Man, which compellingly explores America’s long-standing intrigue with the pioneer lifestyle, was a Finalist for the National Book Award.
“I think my gift, far beyond whatever gifts that I have as a writer, my gift as a human is that I can make friends with people very quickly. Everything I learned about being a journalist I learned by being a bartender. The most exquisite lesson of all is that people will tell you anything. Want to. There’s no question you can’t ask if your intention is not hostile. And it’s not like entrapment; it’s more like a gorgeous revelation. People want to tell the story that they have.”