Mark Kurlansky is a man of varied accomplishments. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Kurlansky got his bachelor’s degree in theater from Butler University in 1970. Refusing to serve in the military, he moved to New York, where he not only produced a number of off-off Broadway productions, but also became playwright-in-residence at Brooklyn College and, in 1972, won the Earplay award for best radio play of the year.
Unhappy with New York theater’s direction, Kurlansky turned to various jobs, working as a commercial fisherman, dock worker, paralegal, cook, and pastry chef. By the mid-1970s, he was ready to return to an early interest: journalism. Once the editor of his high school newspaper, Kurlansky’s passion led him to positions as a foreign correspondent for several major publications, including the International Herald Tribune, Chicago Tribune, and Philadelphia Inquirer, and from 1976 to 1991 Kurlansky was based everywhere from Paris and Mexico to West Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean.
In addition to writing for publications, including Food & Wine, Gourmet, and Bon Appétit, Kurlanksy has written 23 books (to date), including Cod, Salt, 1968, Food of a Younger Land, and The Basque History of the World, all international best sellers. (Cod and Salt both have corresponding children’s versions). Along the way, Kurlanksy’s earned a slew of awards, demonstrating the range of his writing skills. He has been honored by the Los Angeles Times and James Beard Foundation, and was inducted into the Basque Hall of Fame (2001). He also earned a nod as Bon Appétit’s “Food Writer of the Year” (2006) and won the 2007 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Nonviolence and a 2011 National Parenting Publications Gold Award for his book, World Without Fish. Kurlansky has also guest-lectured and taught at many colleges and universities. His books have been translated into 25 languages, and he often illustrates them himself.