Journalist and author Susan Orlean to become new Rogers Communications Chair in Literary Journalism at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

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BANFF, AB, November 22, 2017 – Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is thrilled to announce that award winning journalist and author Susan Orlean will be the new Rogers Communications Chair in Literary Journalism, effective July 2, 2018. 

“Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is one of the most vibrant, inspiring places I've ever visited. I'm thrilled to be joining the Literary Journalism program, especially at this moment, when telling true stories with heart and insight is so essential,” said Orlean

Orlean has been a staff writer with the New Yorker since 1992. Her articles have been published in Rolling Stone Magazine, Esquire, Vogue, Smithsonian, and The New York Times. She is the best-selling author of eight books including My Kind of Place, Saturday Night, Lazy Little Loafer, and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award-winning film, Adaptation. She studied literature and history at the University of Michigan and has since become a guest lecturer at various post-secondary institutions including the University of Michigan, Yale, Berkeley, and Harvard. Orlean was also a Neiman Fellow at Harvard University in 2003. She was given a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014.

“We are thrilled to welcome Susan Orlean to Banff as the 2018-20 Rogers Communications Chair in Literary Journalism,” says Banff Centre’s Director of Literary Arts, Devyani Saltzman. “Susan brings incredible experience to the role as one of the foremost voices in the field of long form journalism, and in her abilities as a generous mentor. Her subjects are wide ranging and rich in their exploration of the world, and we are very excited for her to helm this stellar program and build on the incredible tenure of Ian Brown at a time when in depth narrative is more crucial than ever.”

Established in 1989, the Rogers Communications Chair in Literary Journalism is responsible for the artistic direction of the Literary Journalism program; helping to further Banff Centre’s reputation as a leading international site for training and development in creative non-fiction and journalism. The position is appointed to Canadian and international writers. Past chairs of the program have been Robert Fulford (1989-91), Alberto Manguel (1992-96), Alberto Ruy Sanchez (1999, 2001-03), Rosemary Sullivan (2004-06), Marni Jackson (2007-09), and Ian Brown (2010-17). 

“The importance of great stories, and of the ability to deeply report and engagingly tell them, have never been more valuable and important than today, when the attention of readers is being challenged and stolen from every direction,” said Ian Brown. “If anyone knows how to met that challenge, it's Susan Orlean. She is one of the best long form nonfiction writers in the business, and in the history of the business. Her skills – her bottomless curiosity, her unerring grasp of what will make a universally engaging story, her sense of humour and gravity, her impeccable skills and standards as a reporter and writer and storyteller – will raise the already high standards of Banff's Literary Journalism program even higher. She's the best.” 

The Literary Journalism program aims to inspire creative writing, encouraging exploration and experimentation in journalism. The month-long residency gives writers access to individual consultations and round table discussions, while allowing them to work on their manuscripts in a stimulating environment. Set in Banff Centre’s exclusive Leighton Artists Studios, the program is designed to increase productivity through secluded and engaging work spaces. During the residency, a number of exceptional guest writers and editors are also available, leading a series of public talks and informal discussions. The 2018 program is now open for applications and will run from July 2 - 28.

Rogers Communications has been a proud supporter of the Banff Centre’s Chair in Literary Journalism and the Literary Journalism program since 1994. 

For more information about Banff Centre’s Literary Journalism program visit

About Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity:  Founded in 1933, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is a learning organization built upon an extraordinary legacy of excellence in artistic and creative development. What started as a single course in drama has grown to become the global organization leading in arts, culture, and creativity across dozens of disciplines. From our home in the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity aims to inspire everyone who attends our campus – artists, leaders, and thinkers – to unleash their creative potential and realize their unique contribution to society through cross-disciplinary learning opportunities, world-class performances, and public outreach.

About Susan Orlean: Susan Orlean is the bestselling author of eight books, including The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup; My Kind of Place; Saturday Night; and, Lazy Little Loafers. In 1999, she published The Orchid Thief, a narrative about orchid poachers in Florida, which was made into the Academy Award-winning film, Adaptation, written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. It was a 1999 New York Times Notable Book, and is now in its 35th printing. Her 2011 book, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, was a New York Times bestseller and also chosen as a New York Times Notable Book. It won the Ohioana Book Award and the Theatre Library Association’s Richard Wall Memorial Award. 

Orlean has been a staff writer for the New Yorker since 1992. Her subjects have included umbrella inventors, origami artists, skater Tonya Harding, and gospel choirs. She has also written extensively about animals, including show dogs, racing pigeons, oxen, donkeys, and backyard chickens. Her work has also been published in Esquire, Rolling Stone, Outside, Smithsonian, and the New York Times

Orlean graduated with honors from the University of Michigan and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2003. In 2012 she received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Michigan. In 2014, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Creative Arts/Nonfiction. In 2016, she was selected as the Bernardine Kielty Scherman Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. She has lectured at Yale, New York University, Berkeley, University of Michigan, Kenyon College, The Breadloaf Writers Conference, Goucher Collage, and Harvard University, among others, and has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. She has served as a judge for the National Book Awards, the Bellevue Literary Awards, and the Iowa Review award. 

Orlean lives in Los Angeles and in upstate New York with her husband and son. She is currently writing a book about the Los Angeles Public Library.