photo of William FinneganWILLIAM FINNEGAN

Harman Writer-In-Residence, Fall 2004

William Finnegan, a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1987, is the Fall 2004 Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence at Baruch College. Mr. Finnegan is the author of four books: Cold New World: Growing Up in a Harder Country; A Complicated War: The Harrowing of Mozambique; Dateline Soweto: Travels with Black South African Reporters; and Crossing the Line: A Year in the Land of Apartheid. His work has won many awards, including the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism from Hunter College (2002), a Citation for Excellence from the Overseas Press Club (2000), and the Sidney Hillman Award for Magazine Reporting (1998). He recently won a Pulitzer Prize in the biography/autobiography category for his memoir, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life (2016). 

Born in New York and raised in Los Angeles, Mr. Finnegan received a B.A. from the University of California at Santa Cruz and an M.F.A. from the University of Montana. Before becoming a professional writer, he worked as a railroad brakeman, bartender, and bookstore manager. He has lived in Africa, Asia, and Europe, and spent a year teaching in a black high school in apartheid South Africa. For The New Yorker, he has filed stories from Bolivia, Bosnia, Somalia, Britain, South Africa, Mozambique, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Sudan, and Spain.

Mr. Finnegan’s work has also appeared in Granta, Harper’s, Transition, The New York Review of Books, and many other magazines. He lives in New York City with his wife and daughter. (July 2004)

“Mozambicans must be among the most undemonstrative people in the world. When they speak of the war that has destroyed their country, they speak of the situacao. In the course of two months that I spent in Mozambique last year, talking mostly with victims of the fighting and the famines it has caused, by far the most emotional voices I heard were in the capital city, Maputo, where great bellows of rage and grief often woke me in the mornings. The sufferers were always the same South African and Portuguese businessmen, playing tennis on the courts below my hotel-room window.”

—From A Complicated War

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