Deborah Copaken

Bestselling Memoirist & Journalist
Award Winning TV Writer & Photographer
Travels from: New York, NY

“The most laugh-out-loud story of resilience you’ll ever read and an essential road map for the importance of narrative as a tool of healing”—Lori Gottlieb, bestselling author

Deborah Copaken is the New York Times bestselling author of seven books, including Shutterbabe, The Red Book, Between Here and April, and Ladyparts, her most recent memoir of bodily destruction and resurrection during marital rupture (Random House, 2021). A contributing writer at The Atlantic, she was also a writer on the Emmy/Golden Globe-nominated Netflix hit, Emily in Paris, a performer (The Moth, etc.), and an Emmy Award–winning news producer and photojournalist.

Her photographs have appeared in Time, Newsweek, and The New York Times. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, Observer, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, Slate, O, the Oprah Magazine, and Paris Match, among others. Her column “When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist” was adapted for the Modern Love streaming series. She is the writer, producer, CEO, and publisher of the Substack Ladyparts, and she is currently adapting Ladyparts the book into a series.

 

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Ladyparts: A Memoir

Random House |
Memoir

A frank, witty, and dazzlingly written memoir of one woman trying to keep it together while her body falls apart—from the “brilliant mind” (Michaela Coel, creator of I May Destroy You) behind Shutterbabe

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY REAL SIMPLE • “The most laugh-out-loud story of resilience you’ll ever read and an essential road map for the importance of narrative as a tool of healing.”—Lori Gottlieb, bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

I’m crawling around on the bathroom floor, picking up pieces of myself. These pieces are not a metaphor. They are actual pieces.

Twenty years after her iconic memoir Shutterbabe, Deborah Copaken is at her darkly comedic nadir: battered, broke, divorcing, dissected, and dying—literally—on sexism’s battlefield as she scoops up what she believes to be her internal organs into a glass container before heading off to the hospital . . . in an UberPool.

Ladyparts
is Copaken’s irreverent inventory of both the female body and the body politic of womanhood in America, the story of one woman brought to her knees by the one-two-twelve punch of divorce, solo motherhood, healthcare Frogger, unaffordable childcare, shady landlords, her father’s death, college tuitions, sexual harassment, corporate indifference, ageism, sexism, and plain old bad luck. Plus seven serious illnesses, one atop the other, which provide the book’s narrative skeleton: vagina, uterus, breast, heart, cervix, brain, and lungs. Copaken bounces back from each bum body part, finds workarounds for every setback—she transforms her home into a commune to pay rent, sells her soul for health insurance, turns FBI informant when her sexual harasser gets a presidential appointment—but in her slippery struggle to survive a steep plunge off the middle-class ladder, she is suddenly awoken to what it means to have no safety net.

Side-splittingly funny one minute, a freak horror show the next, quintessentially American throughout, Ladyparts is an era-defining memoir.

The ABCs of Parenthood: An Alphabet of Parenting Advice (Parenthood Book, Advice for New Parents)

Chronicle Books |
Nonfiction

A wise, warm, and witty gift for new (and gently used) parents seeking to raise positive, thoughtful children, this alphabet book brims with the advice only those who’ve been there can give. From “D is for Dog” (get one) to “P is for Praise” (do it often but appropriately) to “R is for Romance” (keep it alive after the kids come), each mini essay is coupled with a smart, letter-appropriate full-color photograph in these delightfully grown-up ABCs.

The Red Book

Hachette Books |
Novel

The Big Chill meets The Group in Deborah Copaken Kogan’s wry, lively, and irresistible new novel about a once-close circle of friends at their twentieth college reunion.

Clover, Addison, Mia, and Jane were roommates at Harvard until their graduation in 1989. Clover, homeschooled on a commune by mixed-race parents, felt woefully out of place. Addison yearned to shed the burden of her Mayflower heritage. Mia mined the depths of her suburban ennui to enact brilliant performances on the Harvard stage. Jane, an adopted Vietnamese war orphan, made sense of her fractured world through words.

Twenty years later, their lives are in free fall. Clover, once a securities broker with Lehman, is out of a job and struggling to reproduce before her fertility window slams shut. Addison’s marriage to a writer’s-blocked novelist is as stale as her so-called career as a painter. Hollywood shut its gold-plated gates to Mia, who now stays home with her four children, renovating and acquiring faster than her director husband can pay the bills. Jane, the Paris bureau chief for a newspaper whose foreign bureaus are now shuttered, is caught in a vortex of loss.

Like all Harvard grads, they’ve kept abreast of one another via the red book, a class report published every five years, containing brief autobiographical essays by fellow alumni. But there’s the story we tell the world, and then there’s the real story, as these former classmates will learn during their twentieth reunion weekend, when they arrive with their families, their histories, their dashed dreams, and their secret yearnings to a relationship-changing, score-settling, unforgettable weekend.

Hell Is Other Parents: And Other Tales of Maternal Combustion

Hachette Books |
Nonfiction
I read No Exit in my early twenties, and I remember thinking hell might very well be other people, okay, sure, but under what far-fetched conditions would anyone ever actually be trapped forever in the company of strangers with no sleep or means of escape?

Then I became a parent.

From Deborah Copaken Kogan, the acclaimed author of the national bestseller Shutterbabe, comes this edgy, insightful, and sidesplitting memoir about surviving in the trenches of modern parenting.

Kogan writes situation comedy in the style of David Sedaris and Spalding Gray with a dash of Erma-Bombeck-on-a-Vespa: wry, acutely observed, and often hilarious true tales, in which the narrator is as culpable as any character. In these eleven linked pieces, Kogan and her husband are almost always broke while working full-time and raising three children in New York City, one of the most expensive and competitive cities in the world.

In one episode, exhausted from a particularly difficult childbirth, Kogan finds herself sharing a hospital room with a foul-mouthed teen mother and her partying posse. In another, Kogan manages to crawl her way to her own emergency appendectomy, which inconveniently strikes the same week her infant’s babysitter is away on vacation, her adolescents are off from school, her New York Times editor needs his edit, and the whole family catches the flu. And in the book’s capper essay, she drives twelve hours, solo, with a screaming toddler in a rent-a-car in a futile effort to catch a glimpse of her eldest child in his summer camp play.

Yes, Shutterbabe is all grown up and slightly worse for the wear, but her clear-eyed vision while under fire has remained intact: You’ve never read funnier war stories.

Between Here and April

Algonquin Books |
Novel

When a deep-seated memory suddenly surfaces, Elizabeth Burns becomes obsessed with the long-ago disappearance of her childhood friend April Cassidy. Driven to investigate, Elizabeth discovers a thirty-five-year-old newspaper article revealing the details that had been hidden from her as a child—shocking revelations about April’s mother, Adele.

Elizabeth, now herself a mother, seeks out anyone who might help piece together the final months, days, and hours of this troubled woman’s life, but the answers yield only more questions. And those questions lead back to Elizabeth’s own life: her own compromised marriage, her increasing self-doubt and dissatisfaction, and finally, a fearsome reckoning with what it means to be a wife and mother.

Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War

Random House |
Memoir

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The remarkable memoir of an ambitious young photojournalist who went off to war as a twenty-two-year-old girl—and came back, four years and many adventures later, a woman

“Eloquent and well observed, not only about the memoirist, but about the world: war, death, photojournalism and, of course, the worldwide battle between the sexes.” —The Washington Post Book World

In 1988, fresh out of Harvard, Deborah Copaken Kogan moved to Paris with a small backpack, a couple of cameras, the hubris of a superhero, and a strong thirst for danger. She wanted to see what a war would look like when seen from up close. Naïvely, she figured it would be easy to filter death through the prism of her wide-angle lens.

She was dead wrong.

Within weeks of arriving in Paris, after begging to be sent where the action was, Kogan found herself on the back of a truck in Afghanistan, her tiny frame veiled from head to toe, the only woman—and the only journalist—in a convoy of rebel freedom fighters. Kogan had not actually planned on shooting the Afghan war alone. However, the beguiling French photographer she’d entrusted with both her itinerary and her heart turned out to be as dangerously unpredictable as, well, a war.

Kogan found herself running from one corner of the globe to another, each linked to the man she was involved with at the time. From Zimbabwe to Romania, from Russia to Haiti, Kogan takes her readers on a heartbreaking yet surprisingly hilarious journey through a mine-strewn decade, her personal battles against sexism, battery, and even rape blending seamlessly with the historical struggles of war, revolution, and unfathomable abuse it was her job to record.

In the end, what was once adventurous to the girl began to weigh heavily on the woman. Though she had finally been accepted into photojournalism’s macho fraternity, her photographs splashed across the front pages of international newspapers and magazines, Kogan began to feel there was something more she was after. Ultimately, what she discovered in herself was a person—a woman—for whom life, not death, is the one true adventure to be cherished above all.

My So-Called Post-Feminist Life in Arts and Letters

Fact versus Fiction

Switching Gears: Can Women Have it All?

The Cost of Womanhood

Deb’s Upcoming Events

Purchase Prints

Deb’s Substack

Honors, Awards & Recognition

NYT Bestseller
IndieNext Pick
Women’s Prize for Fiction
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick

Media clips

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