Polly Shulman grew up in New York City with her nose in a book. She rode the subway alone from an early age, frequently missing her stop when her book was too absorbing; her ambition is to make other readers miss their own stops. She attended Hunter College High School, where she cofounded a literary magazine and competed on the math team, as a rule losing ignominiously (though, she hopes, graciously) to the team from Bronx Science. In tenth grade her social studies teacher stopped her in the hall one day, handed her a phone number, and told her to call it if she wanted an afterschool job. The librarian who answered the phone hired her to work as a page at the New York Public Library’s main branch, which was completely magical, but only in the way all libraries are. Her favorite stack was Stack 7, where they kept the popular fiction from the turn of the 20th century—or as she thinks of them, Books with Frontispieces. (A frontispiece is an illustration at the front of the book.)


She attended Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics as a high school student and majored in math at Yale. (Please don't ask her to figure out who owes what or calculate the tip—she loves math, but she's terrible at arithmetic, which is not the same thing!) After college, she went to work for The Village Voice, editing book reviews. She’s also worked as an editor at Discover, Science, and—for one fun summer—The New York Times Book Review; she’s written columns for The Village Voice Literary Supplement, Newsday, Discover, and Salon, as well as articles, essays, and reviews for many newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Discover, Newsday, Salon, Slate, Scientific American, Archeology, and The Village Voice. She loves to write sonnets. She’s a licensed private investigator. She lives in New York City with her husband in a tall building guarded by gargoyles.

Have a question for Polly?  Click here