CAREER: Novelist and journalist. Editorial director for Alloy Entertainment (creative think tank). Worked as a columnist for Seventeen magazine.
AWARDS, HONORS: Fellowships at Yaddo and MacDowell Colony.
FOR CHILDREN; "INSIDER'S" SERIES; UNDER PSEUDONYM J. MINTER
The Insiders, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Pass It On, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Take It Off, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Miracle Man, Quill (New York, NY), 1999.
Consent, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
(Editor) Love Is the Only Story: Tales of Romance, Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2003.
Contributor of fiction to anthologies, including KGB Bar Reader, Quill/Morrow (New York, NY), 1999; Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge, Perennial (New York, NY), 2003; and The Encyclopedia of Exes, Three Rivers Press (New York, NY), 2005. Contributor to periodicals, including Financial Times, O, Bookforum, and New York Observer. Author of monthly fictional column, "Ben's Life," Seventeen.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist and author Ben Schrank, who also writes children's books under the name J. Minter, grew up in New York City and attended Brown University and New York University. He writes articles and novels for adults and young adults, and was a columnist for the magazine Seventeen for several years, penning fictional accounts from a guy's perspective. In 2002, he became the editorial director for Alloy Entertainment, a creative think tank that generates ideas for books, film, and television.
In 1999, Schrank wrote his first novel, Miracle Man. This coming-of-age story revolves around middle-class Kelly Minter, a modern-day Robin Hood who drops out of Vassar College and takes a job at a moving company, where he steals from his rich clients and gives to the poor residents of his gritty New York City neighborhood. Kelly's problems multiply, though, when he falls in love with his upstairs neighbor, Luz, and also gets involved in stealing expensive paintings.
Critics found much to praise about Miracle Man, and many acknowledged the author's talent for creating unique and intriguing characters. "Imbued with street-wise passion, Schrank's characters expose a frustrated fringe society that simply wants to feel comfortable," observed Autumn de Leon in Time. Other reviewers credited the author's direct and honest voice as propelling the narrative successfully. "Schrank's matter-of-fact prose is lucid and immediate, rendering each of Kelly's painful or flippant thoughts resonant and consequential," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor.
In 2002, Shrank followed up his successful debut with the release of Consent. Here the main character is Mike Zabusky, a Manhattan graduate student struggling to complete his dissertation on Jewish folklore and confused by his on-again, off-again relationship with a beautiful attorney named Katherine. Mike's world becomes more complicated when his father commits suicide and Mike is left to try to figure out the reason why.
Overall, reviewers again lauded Schrank for his work with Consent. Some readers picked up on the author's skill at creating unusual yet accessible characters. "Schrank complements his intriguing domestic drama with characters … as intelligent, realistic, and provocative as the story they propel, as he continues to demonstrate his powerhouse potential," observed a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Others recognized Schrank's ability to artfully balance his various storylines. "Intelligently done: a nice kaleidoscope of emotion, history, and regret," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor.
As J. Minter, Schrank has also written a series of young-adult novels that revolve around the same characters. The Insiders, published in 2004, introduces readers to Jonathan, a rich and fashionable Manhattan high school student who hangs around with his eclectic group of friends, Arno, David, Mickey, and Patch. This first novel finds Jonathan saddled with a visiting cousin from St. Louis whose wild ways threaten to break up Jonathan's group of friends. The characters also deals with parental problems, girls, parties, drugs, and private schools. Schrank published the follow-up novels Pass It On in 2004 and Take It Off in 2005.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 1999, Gilbert Taylor, review of Miracle Man, p. 1795; February 1, 2002, Danise Hoover, review of Consent, p. 924; May 15, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of The Insiders, p. 1615.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2001, review of Consent, p. 1716; April 15, 2004, review of The Insiders, p. 398.
Kliatt, January, 2005, Amanda MacGregor, review of Pass It On, p. 16.
Library Journal, October 1, 1999, review of Miracle Man, p. 52; March 1, 2002, Nancy Pearl, review of Consent, p. 141.
Los Angeles Times, July 4, 1999, Mark Rozzo, review of Miracle Man, p. 10.
Publishers Weekly, April 26, 1999, review of Miracle Man, p. 54; January 21, 2002, review of Consent, p. 61; November 4, 2002, Jim Milliot, "Schrank Joins 17th Street," p. 10; June 7, 2004, review of The Insiders, p. 51; December 13, 2004, review of Pass It On, p. 70.
School Library Journal, June, 2004, Lynn Evarts, review of The Insiders, p. 148; February, 2005, Amy Patrick, review of Pass It On, p. 139.
Time, August 9, 1999, Autumn De Leon, "Model Thief," review of Miracle Man, p. 67.
Washington Post, June 27, 1999, Jennifer Howard, review of Miracle Man, p. 10.
Allen & Unwin Books Web site, http://www.allenandunwin.com/ (February 9, 2005), "Ben Schrank."
Random House Web site, http://www.randomhouse.com/ (February 9, 2005), "Ben Schrank."