Weiner, Eric 1963-

views updated

Weiner, Eric 1963-


Born 1963; married; children: one daughter.


Journalist. National Public Radio, foreign correspondent, 1993—. Knight Journalism Fellow, Stanford University.


Peabody Award, 1994, for a series of investigative reports on the U.S. tobacco industry with a team from National Public Radio.


The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, Twelve (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor to periodicals, including Los Angeles Times, Slate, New Republic, and New York Times.


Eric Weiner is an American journalist. Born in 1963, he began working as a foreign correspondent with National Public Radio, getting the job he had dreamed of for years. His first assignment was a two-year position in New Delhi, India, followed by positions in Jerusalem and Tokyo. He eventually returned to the United States, where he worked in New York, Miami, and Washington, DC. He also served as a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University.

In 1994 he shared a Peabody Award with fellow National Public Radio journalists for writing a series of investigative reports on the U.S. tobacco industry. His work has also been published in a number of periodicals, including the Los Angeles Times, Slate, New Republic, and the New York Times.

Weiner published his first book, The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, in 2008. The travelogue set out to explain about the happiest places in the world, based on his research at the World Database of Happiness in Rotterdam and firsthand experiences living in or visiting a range of countries, including Thailand, India, Bhutan, Qatar, Moldova, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Iceland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Weiner learned unique ways to view happiness while in Thailand and Bhutan, which has a ranking system for the country's Gross National Happiness. He learned that money played a different role in wealthy countries like Switzerland and Qatar, but did not directly relate to happiness in either country. Weiner also examined homogeny in Iceland, which perpetually ranks high in international happiness rankings. Moldova, which consistently places very low in happiness rankings, was considered to be so miserable due to economic hardships and a lack of culture.

David Newham, writing in the London Guardian, commented that "this travelogue of the human psyche is a joy to read." Poornima Apte, writing on the Mostly Fiction Web site, called Weiner's conclusions "self-evident," appending that "Weiner's book works fairly well as an antidote to chase away the winter blues. In India, after Weiner attends a talk by a new, popular guru, he likens the experience to the ‘spiritual equivalent of popcorn: tasty, easy to swallow, and certainly of some nutritional value, but not particularly filling.’ The same attributes could possibly be applied to The Geography of Bliss. I give it a feevty-feevty." Krista Mahr, writing in Time International, observed that "at times, Weiner's gruffness comes off as a strained attempt to stay in the kind of character his book's structure requires, but his skill as a narrator outweighs this mannerism." Mahr also noted that the book "may not always offer the elegant packaging of virtuoso travel writers like Paul Theroux or Jan Morris, yet I know who I'd rather have sitting next to me on public transportation in Bangkok, passing sunburned sexpats in the bars of Patpong while wondering what it all means." Salil Tripathi, reviewing the book in the New Statesman, wrote that "where Weiner excels is in identifying slices of life—moments of bliss—which indicate why a particular society could be happy," adding that "by the end of the book, Weiner has taken the readers on a breathtaking journey." Tripathi concluded: "The result is open-ended: there are no right answers, and each individual's pursuit of happiness must remain unique. This book won't make you rich, slim, or enlightened. But, as Vladimir told Estragon, it will pass the time."

Elissa Schappell described Weiner as "equal parts philosopher, travel guide, and self-help expert—and wholly hilarious" in an article in Vanity Fair. A contributor to Publishers Weekly remarked that "in the end, Weiner's travel tales … provide great happiness for his readers." Josh Rottenberg, writing in Entertainment Weekly, commented that the book doesn't "induce bliss" but rather, "offers engaging, thought-provoking armchair traveling." Booklist contributor Vanessa Bush described the book as an "absorbing, funny, and thoughtful look at notions of bliss." A critic writing in Kirkus Reviews described the book as "fresh and beguiling." The same critic pointed out that Weiner's findings "on the nature of happiness are not exactly world-shaking," but conceded that his "conclusions are hardly the point—as with all great journeys, getting there is at least half the fun."

Sara Rose, writing in the Bergen County Record, summarized that "with help from the happiness database, academics and his own entertaining experiences, Weiner makes the obvious yet epiphanic discovery that in the happiest places, the things we think important money, compromise, trust, culture, among others are, but not in the ways we may think." Tracey Kaplan, writing in the San Jose Mercury News, relayed that "armchair travelers will enjoy the book as a keenly observed, sophisticated travelogue." Pamela Paul, writing in the New York Times Book Review found that the Moldovan "part of the book is funny, but not all of it is. The problem with The Geography of Bliss is one of tone. It comes across as an attempted amalgam of Paul Theroux's bleak humor, P.J. O'Rourke's caustic wit, and David Sedaris's appreciation of the absurd." Paul added that "the book is also weakened by the disconcerting fact that Weiner sometimes spends as little as two weeks in a given country." Nevertheless, Paul concluded that "readers will find pleasure, however fleeting, in these pages."



Weiner, Eric, The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, Twelve (New York, NY), 2008.


Booklist, December 1, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of The Geography of Bliss, p. 14.

Entertainment Weekly, January 18, 2008, Josh Rottenberg, review of The Geography of Bliss, p. 86.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 16, 2008, Cary Darling, review of The Geography of Bliss.

Guardian (London, England), July 19, 2008, David Newham, review of The Geography of Bliss.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2007, review of The Geography of Bliss.

New Statesman, January 21, 2008, Salil Tripathi, review of The Geography of Bliss, p. 55.

New York Times Book Review, December 30, 2007, Pamela Paul, review of The Geography of Bliss, p. 6.

Publishers Weekly, October 22, 2007, review of The Geography of Bliss, p. 46; November 12, 2007, Bettina Berch, "PW Talks with Eric Weiner," p. 44.

Record (Bergen County, NJ), January 23, 2008, Sara Rose, review of The Geography of Bliss, p. 9.

San Jose Mercury News, January 13, 2008, Tracey Kaplan, "Searching the World for Happiness."

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL), February 4, 2008, Thomas Swick, "Your Country Is Happier Than Our Country."

Time International, March 17, 2008, Krista Mahr, review of The Geography of Bliss, p. 6.

USA Today, January 7, 2008, Carol Memmott, review of The Geography of Bliss, p. 1.

Vanity Fair, February 1, 2008, Elissa Schappell, "Mapping Happiness," p. 80.

WWD, January 15, 2008, Rosemary Feitelberg, review of The Geography of Bliss, p. 4.


Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (January 11, 2008), author interview.

Eric Weiner Home Page,http://www.ericweinerbooks.com (August 12, 2008), author biography.

Mostly Fiction,http://mostlyfiction.com/ (March 2, 2008), Poornima Apte, review of The Geography of Bliss.

World Hum,http://www.worldhum.com/ (February 13, 2008), Julia Ross, author interview.