Moran, Thomas

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MORAN, Thomas


Born in Baltimore, MD; married; children: one son. Education: Attended University of Maryland; Columbia University, M.A. (journalism), 1975.


Home—Woodstock, NY. Agent—Jane Dystel, Dystel and Goderich Literary Management, One Union Square West, Suite 904, New York, NY 10003.


Worked as news reporter and editor internationally, 1978-98; former managing editor of W magazine; founding editor of M magazine.


Barnes and Nobles Discover New Writers series finalist, 1997, and Stephen Crane Award for best first fiction, both for The Man in the Box; Tennessee Williams fellowship, University of the South, 2001; Pulitzer Prize in journalism nomination for investigative reporting; International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award nomination, for The World I Made for Her and Water, Carry Me.



The Man in the Box, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 1997.

The World I Made for Her, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Water, Carry Me, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2000.

What Harry Saw, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Anja the Liar, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Moran's novels have been translated into German, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Hebrew, Chinese, and Japanese.


The World I Made for Her was adapted for film as Three Seasons, produced by Industry Entertainment and directed by Tony Bui.


A novel.


"I became a novelist more by chance than choice," noted journalist and author Thomas Moran on his Web site. A journalist for two decades, covering stories in Europe and Asia, Moran had "no literary ambitions, no intention of ever writing fiction." Then one evening in 1995, "a single sentence suddenly appeared from unknown precincts of my imagination." The sentence would not go away; writing it down, the voice of a character came as well as setting and an idea for a story. This stubborn sentence turned into Moran's award-winning debut title, The Man in the Box, a book that drew comparisons to the diary of Anne Frank as well as to the work of Eli Wiesel. The novel tells the story of a Tyrolean family who hide a Jew from the Nazis for almost two years in a box-like compartment in the barn.

In Moran's debut novel, thirteen-year-old Niki Lukasser, the last surviving sibling of five, is responsible for tending to Dr. Weiss, who saved the boy's life once when he was deathly ill. Repaying this debt, the family saves the Jewish doctor in this "tense tale of wartime heroism and adolescent angst," as Michael Upchurch characterized it in the Seattle Times. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Michael Harris had more praise for the book, calling it an "elegant first novel." Harris concluded, "We read The Man in the Box expecting the worst, and the spare and ambiguous tune Moran plays wouldn't be the same without the counterpoint of that terrible music." The novel did have its detractors, though, including Lee Siegel in the New York Times Book Review, who complained that an "historical novel requires a sense of history, but Mr. Moran seems innocent of this." Siegel also commented that it is "exasperating that … Thomas Moran does not rise to the imaginative obligations imposed by his incontestable conceptual gifts." Library Journal critic Molly Abramowitz, on the other hand, commended the novel as "sensitive and evocatively written" and further noted that this "is an impressive debut." And a reviewer for Publishers Weekly felt that Moran tells his tale "with gentle and unflinching honesty."

Reviewing Moran's second novel, The World I Made for Her, Upchurch wrote in the New York Times that the author is "a connoisseur of confined spaces." In this tale, instead of a hiding box, protagonist James Blatchley is kept in a hospital bed on life support systems, an experience the author drew from his own real-life battle with a nearly fatal case of chicken pox. In the hospital Blatchley meets Nuala, who is fresh from Ireland and suffering from her own loss. The two make unlikely lovers in this "fine romance between a patient and his nurse," according to Walter Kirn in Time. Kirn went on to note that Blatchley courts "the plain Nuala solely from his neck up, in thoughts and dreams and the occasional rounding of his lips." A contributor to Publishers Weekly called the work "eerily affecting"; and in Booklist critic David Cline's view, Moran's second novel is "almost perfect." Cline further predicted that "for many, this book will prove one of the best novels published this year."

Moran delves more deeply into love and into Ireland with his year 2000 novel, Water, Carry Me, "a fictional love story based on the political upheaval in Northern Ireland," as Carol Stern described it in Library Journal. Chronicling the life of a female protagonist, the book follows Una Moss from her childhood, when she was orphaned as a result of the death of her parents in a car accident, to womanhood, as she studies to become a surgeon. She has found a comfortable life and fine friends, but when she discovers that her parents' car crash was no accident, she also finds that the "troubles" in the North are not that far away from her after all. Booklist reviewer Marlene Chamberlain felt that Moran "has created another engrossing world in this novel set in Ireland." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the novel "compelling" and praised Moran's "swift-moving narrative." Library Journal writer David W. Henderson was also impressed with the novel, describing is as a "well-crafted, haunting tale filled with very human characters caught in a web bigger than themselves."

In What Harry Saw, Moran's fourth novel, the author focuses on an "emotionally clueless male protagonist," according to Barbara Liss in the Houston Chronicle. Native Australian Harry Hull has not had an easy time in life. After turning into a juvenile delinquent after the death of his mother, Harry joins the army and goes to Vietnam. Injured and made diffident by the experience, he returns to Sydney and finds a job as a reporter. There he meets Lucy, and things get more complicated as his distant, protective shell begins to crack. A Publishers Weekly contributor found that Harry is "a hard guy to like" but additionally allowed that the "irony of the denouement … and its realistic assessment of Harry's future, is genuinely affecting." Library Journal reviewer Lawrence Rungren also commented on the character of Harry: "Despite his flaws, Harry is an appealing, very human protagonist." Booklist writer GraceAnne DeCandido found much to like in the book, commenting that it is "beautifully composed about the hollow in Harry's center, which he never quite sees clearly."

"Moran … views desperate lives at close range in this well-placed novel," wrote Library Journal contributor Edward Cone in a review of the novelist's fifth work, Anja the Liar. Taking the postwar years of the mid-to-late 1940s as his setting, Moran weaves a tale of two young women in a displaced-persons camp who view marriage as a way out. Anja and Sisi both marry ex-soldiers out of convenience, but Anja's marriage to Walter Fass, a former German soldier, blossoms into real love. Both Anja and Walter have secrets: hers is a betrayal of friends in the Polish resistance, while Walter's is a horrifying scene of wartime barbarity in Yugoslavia, one that he witnessed but did nothing to try and stop. Just as Anja and Walter begin to build a new life, a reminder of that barbarous scene comes to Walter in the form of the beautiful Serbian partisan leader he fought with in Yugoslavia. As Michael Pye explained in the New York Times Book Review, "Moran's characters have done things that nobody can live with (or so we want to think), but his book is about how they go on living anyway. Instead of the resolutions we expect from tragedy, we look into a moral abyss." Cone similarly found this novel a "searing tale," while Booklist critic Deborah Donovan thought that Moran "expertly delves into the psyches of his fragile characters, leaving a haunting portrait of the aftermath of war." A critic for Publishers Weekly likewise found Moran's "examination of the fine distinctions between evil, weakness and desperation … stimulating and unflinching."



Atlantic, April, 2000, review of Water, Carry Me, p. 134.

Baltimore Jewish Times, April 18, 1997, Judith Bolton-Fasman, review of The Man in the Box, p. 97.

Booklist, January 1, 1997, Mary Carroll, review of The Man in the Box, pp. 821-822; June 1, 1998, David Cline, review of The World I Made for Her, p. 1727; February 1, 2000, Marlene Chamberlain, review of Water, Carry Me, p. 1008; July, 2002, GraceAnne DeCandido, review of What Harry Saw, p. 34; September 15, 2003, Deborah Donovan, review of Anja the Liar, p. 211.

Denver Post, October 12, 2003, James Hoggard, review of Anja the Liar, p. EE02.

Houston Chronicle, October 27, 2002, Barbara Liss, review of What Harry Saw, p. 25.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2002, review of What Harry Saw, pp. 1167-1168; August 15, 2003, review of Anja the Liar, p. 1040.

Library Journal, January, 1997, Molly Abramowitz, review of The Man in the Box, p. 149; March 15, 1999, Shirley E. Havens, review of The World I Made for Her, p. 136; January, 2000, David W. Henderson, review of Water, Carry Me, p. 161; July, 2001, Carol Stern, review of Water, Carry Me (audiobook), p. 150; August, 2002, Lawrence Rungren, review of What Harry Saw, p. 144; November 1, 2003, Edward Cone, review of Anja the Liar, p. 125.

Los Angels Times, March 10, 1997, Michael Harris, review of The Man in the Box, p. 3.

New York Times Book Review, March 2, 1997, Lee Siegel, review of The Man in the Box, p. 9; August 23, 1998, Michael Upchurch, review of The World I Made for Her, p. 12; March 5, 2000, Stephen Amidon, review of Water, Carry Me, p. 11; November 9, 2003, Michael Pye, review of Anja the Liar, p. 17.

Publishers Weekly, December 16, 1996, review of The Man in the Box, p. 44; May 18, 1998, review of The World I Made for Her, p. 71; August 24, 1998, John F. Baker, "Light and Dark," p. 14; January 24, 2000, review of Water, Carry Me, p. 289; June 24, 2002, review of What Harry Saw, p. 34; August 25, 2003, review of Anja the Liar, p. 36.

Seattle Times, January 25, 1998, Michael Upchurch, review of The Man in the Box, p. M3.

Sewanee Purple, February 16, 2001, Susannah Roy, "Acclaimed Author and World Traveler Teaches Fiction at Sewanee."

Time, July 20, 1998, Walter Kirn, review of The World I Made for Her, p. 64.


Thomas Moran Home Page, (January 25, 2004).*