Author Spotlight: Mitch Albom
A man of many talents, Mitch Albom is a noted radio host, journalist, musician, and sportswriter. Albom’s name became famous after the success of Tuesdays with Morrie. Albom then followed this up with more bestsellers. Albom’s novels are known to deal with themes such as family and spirituality.
Born in New Jersey, Albom grew up in a middle-class family. His parents encouraged him and his siblings to travel, and they took this to heart. Their family lived in Buffalo, New York, for a while, and it was here that he developed an interest in journalism. By day, he was a writer for a weekly newspaper called the Queens Tribune, and by night, he worked in the music industry in order to support himself. His work in the Tribune helped him gain entry to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. While studying, he took on a variety of jobs in order to support himself, including a part-time stint in SPORT magazine, piano playing at night, and the occasional babysitting. After graduation, he worked freelance for publications and was able to work with Sports Illustrated, GEO, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. He also covered several Olympic sports events in Europe.
In 1983, he was hired as a feature writer for the Fort Lauderdale News and Sun Sentinel and was later promoted to columnist. In 1985, Albom won the Associated Press Sports Editors Award for Best Sports News Story. That year, he was also hired as lead sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press. He became one of the most award-winning sports writers of his era while he was in Detroit. He has won more than 200 writing honors for journalism and was named the best sports columnist of the nation 13 times by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
Albom gained further fame with his book, Tuesdays with Morrie. The book chronicles the time Albom spent with his professor, Morrie Schwartz. The visits started after Albom had felt guilty about not being able to visit Schwartz since they used to be very close. In his visits, Schwartz often talked about living and dying with a terminal disease, which was ALS. They also often had discussions about life and death in general. Albom looked for a publisher for the book as a way to fulfill his promise of paying for Schwartz’s medical bills. Despite being turned down by multiple publishing houses, Albom managed to fulfill his promise after Doubleday accepted the idea. Tuesdays with Morrie was published in 1997 and has since become the best-selling memoir of all time.
After Tuesdays, Albom wrote a fictional novel called The Five People You Meet in Heaven. This is the story of Eddie, a wounded war veteran who fixes carnival rides at an amusement park for a living. Eddie is killed saving a little girl from a falling ride. He then awakes in the afterlife and discovers that heaven is a place in which five people in your life explain your life to you.
After that, Albom continued to write more fiction, specializing on themes of fantasy, morality, and spirituality. The Five People You Meet in Heaven was followed by For One More Day, Have A Little Faith, The Timekeeper, and The First Phonecall from Heaven. His latest novel, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, is a departure from his trademark spiritual fantasy.
Despite his huge success as a novelist, Albom still continues to write a weekly sports column for the Detroit Free Press. He has also founded eight charities in Detroit. His charity work focuses mostly on helping the neediest people in the Detroit area by providing scholarships, health care, and homes. Mitch Albom also did charity work overseas, such as providing aid to people affected by the earthquake in Haiti back in 2010 and typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013.
In 2010, he was awarded the Red Smith Award for lifetime achievement by the Associated Press Sports Editors.