Cohen, Tish 1963–

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Cohen, Tish 1963–


Born 1963, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; married; children: two sons.


Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer. Has worked as media buyer at an ad agency, decorative painter, art gallery manager, illustrator, proofreader, and editor.


Town House (novel), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

The Invisible Rules of the Zoe Lama, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2007.


Town House was optioned for a film by Fox Studios, to be directed by Ridley Scott.


Tish Cohen is a Canadian author whose debut novel, Town House, was high profile enough to attract Hollywood interest before book publication. In fact, an option for a movie by Fox Studios spurred the sale of the novel for publication. ‘It's no wonder Hollywood came calling,’ Rachel Giese wrote in CBC online. ‘The novel's quirky characters and feel-good storyline read like a movie and the casting is obvious.’ Town House features an agoraphobic thirty-something, Jack Madigan, who is living off the annuities of his deceased father, a rock star in the 1970s. Afraid to leave his Boston home even to fetch the paper, Jack seems like a magnificent loser to his seventeen-year-old son. However, a nine-year-old neighbor, Lucinda, has more compassion. When Jack faces the prospect of having to leave his heavily mortgaged home, Lucinda comes to his aid, helping to bring the rather tortured man out of his frightening and claustrophobic world.

Cohen's first novel, written in less than a month, met with a generally positive critical reception. School Library Journal contributor Charlie Osborne praised the ‘style and verve’ with which the book was written. A Kirkus Reviews critic had a more mixed assessment, concluding: ‘While the humor tends to be self-conscious and pedestrian, Jack ultimately learns the serious lesson that ‘the deeper you hide yourself away the harder it becomes to come out.’’ Higher praise came from a Publishers Weekly reviewer who felt that the book is ‘terrifically written,’ and that ‘Cohen's affinity for her nut-job characters is infectious and will keep readers involved as the plot reaches its peachy end."

Cohen is also the author of fiction for young readers. The Invisible Rules of the Zoe Lama is about a seventh-grader with many concerns. Not only is she a self-appointed adjudicator on the playground, but she is also looking for a husband for her widowed mother and attempting to keep her Alzheimer's-stricken grandmother out of a nursing facility. ‘Cohen handles the heavier elements of the plot with a light touch and gives her narrator an amusingly wry voice,’ wrote Laurie Slagenwhite in a School Library Journal review.

Cohen told CA: ‘I was born crazy for books. My husband [and I] went all the way to Greece for our honeymoon and really just read. We barely noticed where we were. I suppose writing books eventually made sense."

Cohen cited writers Alice Munro, John Irving, and Anne Tyler as influences on her work.

"While working on a first draft, I tend to get swallowed up in my story, writing from the time I wake until the time I go back to bed, with little breaks in between. It's just the way it works for me. I find if I step away from the book for even a day, I lose some part of the connection I have with it. I'm happiest when writing every day."

When asked the most surprising thing she has learned as a writer, Cohen said: ‘To write from the soul, not the ego."

"My favorite book at any given time is always the one I'm working on. Right now I'm madly, wildly in love with a novel that is only sixteen pages old. If I don't feel that kind of passion for my characters, there's something wrong with the story.

"I hope readers will see themselves in my characters and be touched in some way. Maybe they'll recognize their own fears, or a similar intensity in their wants. If Town House helps one agoraphobe smile at his or her own life, diminishing fear a tiny bit; if Zoe Lama helps one young girl feel it's okay to look different than her peers; well, that would be thrilling. Most of all, I hope people see you can laugh through your tears."



Books, May 6, 2007, review of Town House, p. 9.

Hollywood Reporter, September 26, 2005, Tatiana Sigel, ‘Fox 2000 Does ‘House’ Work,’ p. 6.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2007, review of Town House, p. 185.

Publishers Weekly, March 5, 2007, review of Town House, p. 39.

School Library Journal, July, 2007, Charlie Osborne, review of Town House, p. 129; August, 2007, Laurie Slagenwhite, review of The Invisible Rules of the Zoe Lama, p. 112.


CBC Web site, (May 24, 2007), Rachel Giese, ‘Novel Approach: Tish Cohen Hits Hollywood Big Time with Her Literary Debut."

Novel Journey, (April 26, 2007), Jessica Dotta, ‘Interview with Tish Cohen."

Tish Cohen Home Page, (September 14, 2007).

Tish Cohen MySpace Page, (September 14, 2007).

Torontoist, (May 23, 2007), ‘Tall Poppy Interview: Tish Cohen."