“Shah’s intellectual enthusiasm and dry sense of humor recall popular science writers such as Steven Pinker and Stephen Jay Gould; her narrative strength and penchant for investigative journalism bring to mind science reporter and Flu author Gina Kolata.”
--Michael Schaub, NPR
“Shah rules the investigative report.”
Sonia Shah is an investigative journalist and author of critically acclaimed and prize-winning books on science, human rights, and international politics. Her critically acclaimed 2010 book, The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years (Sarah Crichton Books/ Farrar, Straus & Giroux, July 2010), which is based on five years of original reportage in Cameroon, Malawi, Panama and elsewhere, was called “tour-de-force” by the New York Times,” and was long-listed for the Royal Society Winton Prize. Her prize-winning 2006 drug industry exposé, The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World’s Poorest Patients (New Press), was described by Publishers Weekly as “a tautly argued study…a trenchant exposé…meticulously researched and packed with documentary evidence,” and as “important [and] powerful” by The New England Journal of Medicine. The book, which international bestselling novelist and The Constant Gardener author John Le Carré called “an act of courage,” has enjoyed wide international distribution, including French, Japanese, and Italian editions.
Her 2004 book, Crude: The Story of Oil (Seven Stories), was acclaimed as “brilliant” and “beautifully written” by The Guardian and “required reading” by The Nation, and has been widely translated, from Japanese, Greek, and Italian to Bahasa Indonesia. Her “raw and powerful” (Amazon.com) 1997 collection, Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire, still in print after more than 15 years, continues to be required reading at colleges and universities across the country.
A former writing fellow of the Nation Institute and the Puffin Foundation, Shah’s writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, Foreign Affairs, and elsewhere, and has been featured on current affairs programs around the United States, including RadioLab, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and other NPR shows, as well as on the BBC and Australia’s Radio National. A frequent keynote speaker at political conferences, Shah has lectured at universities and colleges across the country, including Columbia’s Earth Institute, MIT, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Georgetown and elsewhere. Her television appearances include The History Channel, A&E and the BBC, and she’s consulted on many documentary film projects, from the ABC to Channel 4 in the UK. Her work has been supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, The Nation Investigative Fund, and others. She served as the 2014 Ottaway Professor of Journalism at SUNY New Paltz.
Shah was born in 1969 in New York City to Indian immigrants. Growing up, she shuttled between the northeastern United States where her parents practiced medicine and Mumbai and Bangalore, India, where her extended working-class family lived, developing a life-long interest in inequality between and within societies. She holds a BA in journalism, philosophy, and neuroscience from Oberlin College, and lives with molecular ecologist Mark Bulmer and their two sons Zakir and Kush.