Gabrielle Zevin Is Not Going to Post This Article

If you visit Gabrielle Zevin’s author website, you will encounter a kind of opacity that is downright refreshing. In lieu of links to Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn and so forth, Zevin provides an unusual statement. “I’m allergic to being online, but you will sometimes find me on Instagram, and only for the three months before and after I have a book out,” she writes under the “Contact” tab. “After that time, I completely disappear from the internet and resume writing books again.”

What a revolutionary concept! Zevin’s opinions, musings, Wordle scores and snack choices are not available on Twitter. She has an author page on Facebook but hasn’t updated her status (do we still say this?) since March 2021. She did post a time-lapse of hands frantically completing a jigsaw puzzle on Instagram but — spoiler alert — the finished product turned out to be the cover of her fifth novel, “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow,” which is now in its second week on the hardcover fiction list. Our reviewer, Tom Bissell, described the book as a “delightful and absorbing” story “about brilliant young game designers hitting it big and slowly growing apart.”

“It’s not like I’ve written a book that’s negative about technology,” Zevin said in a phone interview. “Both my parents worked in computers. My dad is a computer programmer.”

So why the reluctance to bare all on social media? “I’m not a person who writes particularly well when I’m also putting a lot of effort into a public-facing persona,” she explained. “I also find that the less I know about a writer when I’m reading their book, the more I can give myself over to that book. And I think privacy gives you creative freedom.” Zevin pointed out that curating an online persona really isn’t so different from adding an Instagram filter to your picture, and that’s not something she’s eager to do. She said, “We’re just babies in terms of having the internet, having social media. We’re toddlers at best. I don’t think we’ve all figured out how to manage it and use it in the ways that are going to lead to the best outcomes for society and for humans as individuals. But that’s not to say we won’t.”

Like almost every author ever interviewed for this column, Zevin said she values real-life, in-person interactions with readers. She also welcomes what used to be known as plain old mail and is now known as “snail mail.” (Thankfully, she did not use this term, which is almost as awful as “gifted” as a verb.) Zevin removed her email from her website — she felt she wasn’t responding to messages quickly enough — and invested in a post office box, where she now receives correspondence. “It’s at a UPS Store,” she said. “So I check it when I have something to ship, at least twice a month.”


Elisabeth Egan is an editor at the Book Review and the author of “A Window Opens.”