Literary Power Couples We’re Crushing On

Holding hands at the bookstore

Your garden-variety creep would probably say she intends a list like this to be complimentary, and I do, really. I’ve got no history of stalking, my Facebook skills are sub-geriatric, and I accidentally spilled things on most of the celebrities I served at a swanky SoHo café. My point is that  I’m better behind a bar, making espresso and bellinis, and admiring these brilliant writer couples from a respectful distance:

Kurt Andersen and Anne Kreamer
Before she began writing unguarded, reflective social commentary, Kreamer’s credits included coproducing Sesame Street and serving as Worldwide Creative Director at Nickelodeon and Nick at Night during the glorious 90s period that brought us Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show. Andersen is one of the country’s prolific cultural polymaths; he cofounded Spy (which Kreamer helped launch), Inside.com, and Very Short list, and was Time’s architecture and design critic and New York magazine’s chief editor. His novels are as expansive and insightful as his nonfiction, and Studio 360, the Peabody award–winning radio show Andersen cocreated and hosts, reliably delivers top-tier programming. For a snippet of their charms, listen to the couple compete against each other on NPR’s Ask Me Another.

Zadie Smith and Nick Laird
Smith and Laird are the literary elite in one conveniently married pair. My impression (from articles and interviews—not stalking) is that they edit one another’s work and manage to keep liking each other. Laird’s been long-listed for the Dylan Thomas Prize for his debut novel Utterly Monkey and poetry collection To a Fault, also nominated for the Forward Prize. Smith weathered the blessing/curse of runaway first novel success with a marathoner’s determination, evolving with the race (writing about changing her mind and profiling Jay-Z for the NY Times). Frank Rich writes of Smith’s third novel, On Beauty, which deals with identity politics in America: “she wants to rise above the fray even as she wallows in it, to hit a high note of idealism rather than sink into the general despair.” I’ve been thumbing through my copy a lot these days.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Kristof and WuDunn do some of the most influential work in contemporary geopolitics, and they do it together. They’ve coauthored three books: China Wakes, Thunder from the East, and Half the Sky (now a film and a movement) and in 1990 became the first married couple to win a Pulitzer prize, for reporting on China’s pro-democracy demonstrations, most famously in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Kristof has been nominated for an additional five Pulitzers (and won once), and WuDunn and was the first Asian American to win the prize. The number of honors bestowed on the pair is dizzying, but their writing is impeccably researched, levelheaded, and inspiring.

Hanna Rosin and David Plotz
Plotz is Slate’s editor and the author of two cheeky, funny nonfiction books—about the Bible and America’s most illustrious sperm bank. Rosin cocreated Slate’s Double X site and has written on controversial gender, political, and religious issues for The New YorkerWashington Post, The New Republic and others. Her book, The End of Men, is a nuanced, unsentimental look at shifting power dynamics between men and women—check out her TED Talk for a preview.

Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer
Gaiman, a man who brings dreams into consciousness, infuses genre with literary grace, and is a captivating storyteller across mediums, began his most recent book, The Ocean at the End of The Lane, as a letter to Palmer. Palmer, formerly of The Dresden Dolls, is a songwriter (singer, musician, and performer), which qualifies her for this list because she’s my kinda fantastic and I’m making the rules.

Stephen and Tabitha King
Nothing to say about these two that hasn’t been said, except that I’ve often fantasized about having been raised a King—Alex King is a great name—and my mother’s a fan, so it’s totally fine.

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