Dorfman, Joaquín 1979- (Joaquin Emiliano Dorfman)

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Dorfman, Joaquín 1979- (Joaquin Emiliano Dorfman)


Born February, 1979, in Amsterdam, Netherlands; immigrated to United States, 1980; son of Ariel Dorfman (a playwright). Education: Attended New York University.


Home and office—NC.


Novelist, playwright, and script writer.


(With father, Ariel Dorfman) Burning City, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.

Playing It Cool, Random House (New York, NY), 2006.

Also author of plays and screenplays, some with Ariel Dorfman.


Joaquín Dorfman and his father, playwright and activist Ariel Dorfman, have shared many experiences, ranging from being arrested and deported during a visit to Chile when Dorfman was age six to writing the collaborative

novel Burning City. "Ariel is a lot busier than I am, so I did most of the work," the younger Dorfman quipped to Nadine O'Reagan in an interview for Ireland's Sunday Business Post regarding the joint work of fiction. "I took care of the consonants, he took care of the vowels." Even before cowriting his first novel, Dorfman was no stranger to the world of literature. His first play opened at the Edinburgh Festival when he was nineteen years old, and he also coauthored two screenplays with his father.

Burning City recounts the events of a single summer in the life of teenage bicycle messenger Heller. While dreaming of becoming the youngest winner of the Tour de France, Heller rides through New York City on various assignments, often delivering bad news to his company's customers. Heller's ability to empathize with his clients allows him to familiarize himself with a wide variety of people, thereby gaining a different sense of his city environment. "Taut writing matches the fast, sweaty pace of Heller's extreme cycling through a sizzling New York summer," wrote Lauren Adams in her Horn Book review, and School Library Journal con- tributor Sarah Couri commented that the coauthors' "descriptions of summer in Manhattan are flawless; the city seethes as Heller surges through its streets like an electron, connecting people and lives in complicated ways."

"The pattern was togetherness and separateness," Dorfman told O'Reagan in describing the father-son writing process. "I would go to my apartment in New York at around midnight … and sit down and write until morning. Then I would walk to my father's house and show him what I had written. He would say, ‘Change this, change that.’ Usually I wouldn't listen because I'm very strong-willed." Holly Koelling, reviewing the resulting novel in Booklist praised the Dorfmans as "deft writers, smoothly intertwining characters and events in a highly imaginative, intriguing, and almost dreamlike story."

Dorfman moves to solo fiction in Playing It Cool, where readers meet master problem solver Sebastian. Sebastian can fix things, locate people, and help make tough decision. Despite the fact that so many people confide in him, however, no one really knows Sebastian. However, when he takes on the task of tracking down Jeremy's father, the over-competent sleuth must face some of his own personal struggles—including his need for a father that he never knew. Dorfman "writes with a compassion and an energy that will propel readers along," Krista Hutley concluded in her Booklist review of Playing It Cool, while School Library Journal reviewer Susan Oliver considered the book "a sophisticated, mystery/romance/coming-of-age story full of red herrings and elaborate schemes." While some critics, including Hutley and a writer for Kirkus Reviews, found the author's reliance on fragmentary sentences and the text's lack of pronouns somewhat daunting, Claire E. Gross wrote in Horn Book that "Dorfman's restless, pointed prose perfectly defines his narrator's fragmented perspective."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, April 15, 2005, Holly Koelling, review of Burning City, p. 1448; May 1, 2006, Krista Hutley, review of Playing It Cool, p. 80.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September, 2005, Karen Coats, review of Burning City, p. 14; September, 2006, Karen Coats, review of Playing It Cool, p. 11.

Horn Book, May-June, 2005, Lauren Adams, review of Burning City, p. 323; May-June, 2006, Claire E. Gross, review of Playing It Cool, p. 312.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2005, review of Burning City, p. 537; May 15, 2006, review of Playing It Cool, p. 517.

Kliatt, May, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Burning City, p. 10; May, 2006, Claire Rosser, review of Playing It Cool, p. 8.

Publishers Weekly, June 6, 2005, review of Burning City, p. 66; June 19, 2006, review of Playing It Cool, p. 64.

School Library Journal, January, 2006, review of Burning City, p. 130; June, 2006, Susan Oliver, review of Playing It Cool, p. 152.

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 2005, Liza M. David, review of Burning City, p. 128.


Joaquín Dorfman Home Page, (April 28, 2007).

Random House Web site, (April 28, 2007), "Joaquín Dorfman."

Sunday Business Post Online (Ireland), (May 11, 2003), Nadine O'Reagan, "Escaping Pinochet's Shadow."

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Dorfman, Joaquín 1979- (Joaquin Emiliano Dorfman)

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