"One Hundred Fears of Solitude," Crowther's long essay on technological dystopia for GRANTA, was praised by Scott Sherman in a recent issue of THE NATION: "......not to be missed, a jeremiad on digital culture by Hal Crowther, whose barbs might have impressed Twain and Mencken, and whose painstaking attention to writing befits the magazine that published it."
"Gather at the River," Crowther's most recent collection of essays, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle prize for criticism. It was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. For his first collection, "Unarmed But Dangerous," he was cited by Kirkpatrick Sale as "the best essayist working in journalism today." "Cathedrals of Kudzu," published by LSU Press in 2000, has been one of the New South's most honored and critically acclaimed works of non-fiction. It received the Lillian Smith Book Award from the Southern Regional Council, the Fellowship Prize for Non-Fiction from the Fellowship of Southern Writers and the Book of the Year award for essays from Foreword Magazine. The Southern Book Critics Circle also chose "Cathedrals" as a finalist for the Southern Book Award in non-fiction.
Crowther, a former columnist and film and drama critic for the BUFFALO NEWS, staff writer for TIME and media critic for NEWSWEEK, has filed his personal essays on culture, media, politics, natural history and unnatural humanity from every continent except Australia and Antarctica. He published a comprehensive series of essays on the Soviet Union in 1985 and in 1989 chronicled the collapse of the Soviet Empire from Budapest, Prague and Berlin, where he took his turn swinging a sledgehammer at the Berlin Wall. He covered Angela Davis and the Miracle Mets for TIME, the videocassette revolution for NEWSWEEK and the Reagan revolution for SPECTATOR.
Hal Crowther was born March 26, 1945, in Halifax, N.S., the son of an American naval officer. He is a graduate of Williams College (B.A., English) and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Class of 1967. He launched his syndicated column in SPECTATOR, where he was executive editor from 1984 to 1989. The column originated in THE INDEPENDENT WEEKLY when it won the BALTIMORE SUN's H.L. Mencken Writing Award, the first weekly column honored. In 1998 it won another national award, the AAN (American Association of Newsweeklies) first prize for commentary, shared with Nat Hentoff of the VILLAGE VOICE. In 2000 Crowther received a career prize, the Russell J. Jandoli Award for Excellence in Journalism from St. Bonaventure University.
For "Dealer's Choice," his column on Southern letters and culture in THE OXFORD AMERICAN, Crowther was a 2002 finalist for the National Magazine Award in commentary. He has written featured political columns for THE INDEPENDENT and THE PROGRESSIVE POPULIST of Austin, Texas and was a regular contributor to the book pages of THE ATLANTA J0URNAL-CONSTITUTION. His essays have been published in many periodicals and appear in many anthologies. He has screen credits for several film and television scripts.
Most recently Crowther has won a 2014 Pushcart Prize for non-fiction with his essay “Out of Date: The Joys of Obsolescence” originally published in Blackbird and currently in the 2014 Pushcart Prize Anthology, edited by Bill Henderson, publisher W.W. Norton. His forthcoming book of criticism To the Contrary: The Writing of H. L. Menken will be published in Fall 2014 by the University of Iowa Press as part of a series of “Writers on Writing,” edited by Robert Richardson.
Crowther has one daughter, Amity, and one stepson, and lives in Hillsborough, N.C., with his wife, the novelist Lee Smith.