Michael J. Arlen

Michael John Arlen (born December 9, 1930, London, England)[1] is an American writer, primarily of non-fiction and personal history, as well as longtime staff writer and television critic for The New Yorker.

Early lifeEdit

Arlen is the son of a British-Armenian writer, Michael Arlen and former Countess Atalanta Mercati of Athens, Greece. His early childhood was spent with his family in Cannes, in the South of France.[2] At the outbreak of World War 2, he was at boarding school in England and went with his school to join a Canadian school in Ottawa, Canada.[3] Later he transferred to St. Paul's School, Concord, NH,[4] after which he went to Harvard College, where he was a co-President of The Harvard Lampoon and graduated in 1952.[5]


Arlen worked as a reporter on Life for five years, from 1952 to 1957,[6] before joining the staff of The New Yorker in 1957 where he remained until 1990. His first book was Living-Room War, a collection of his television pieces centered on the Vietnam War.[7] The book title is a term coined by Arlen that has gone on to be heavily referenced in Academic writings and editorials.[8] His two best-known books are Exiles (focused on his childhood in the South of France)[9] and Passage to Ararat (about his Armenian heritage),[10] both of them personal histories which first appeared in full in The New Yorker.


Exiles was short-listed for the National Book Award. Passage to Ararat won the National Book Award (Contemporary Affairs) in 1976.[11]

Personal lifeEdit

Arlen has four children from his first marriage. He married a second time, to screenwriter Alice Albright, in 1972, and together they raised an extended family of seven children. Alice Albright Arlen died in 2016.[12]


  • Living-Room War (1969)
  • An American Verdict (1974)
  • Exiles (1970)
  • Passage to Ararat (1975) — National Book Award, Contemporary Affairs
  • The View from Highway 1 (1976)
  • Thirty Seconds (1980)
  • The Camera Age (1981)
  • Say Goodbye to Sam (1984)
  • The Huntress (2016)


  1. ^ Vineta Colby, World Authors, 1975-1980 (Wilson, 1985: ISBN 0824207157), p. 45.
  2. ^ Arlen, Michael J. (1970) Exiles Published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York ISBN 9780374150969
  3. ^ Arlen, Michael J. (1975) Passage to Ararat Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux: ISBN 978-0374229894
  4. ^ Exiles p. 141
  5. ^ Kaplan, Martin (1973)The Harvard Lampoon Centennial Celebration,1876-1973 Published by Little, Brown: ISBN 978-0316482707 p.251
  6. ^ Arlen, Michael J. (August 1972) “Green days and photojournalisim, and the old man in the room” The Atlantic
  7. ^ Arlen, Michael J. (1969) Living-Room War Published by Viking, US: ISBN 9780670435630
  8. ^ Pach, Chester (May 13, 2017) “ Lyndon Johnson’s Living Room War” New York Times.
  9. ^ Exiles
  10. ^ Passage to Ararat
  11. ^ "National Book Awards – 1976". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-09. There was a "Contemporary" or "Current" award category from 1972 to 1980.
  12. ^ "Alice Arlen, Screenwriter With Premier Journalistic Pedigree, Dies at 75". New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2016

External linksEdit