Michael Meyer went to China in 1995 as one of its first Peace Corps volunteers. As the author of the acclaimed The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed, he received a Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His second book, In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China won a Lowell Thomas Award for Best Travel Book from the Society of American Travel Writers, as did the third book in his China trilogy, The Road to Sleeping Dragon: Learning China from the Ground Up. A longtime journalist, Meyer’s stories have appeared in the New York Times, Time, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, Slate, the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, Architectural Record, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and on National Public Radio’s This American Life. A former Cullman Center and Bellagio fellow, Meyer has also received a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar fellowship. He is a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, where he teaches nonfiction writing/reporting, as well as travel writing, in London.
During his residency at MacDowell in 2020, he completed and submitted, Benjamin Franklin's Last Bet, a biography of the divisive death and enduring afterlife of Benjamin Franklin, as seen through his remarkable last will and testament. The book will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In addition he also wrote an essay accepted by the New Yorker.com, wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that drew the ire of the junior Republican senator from Florida, and completed the proposal for his next book of nonfiction. While in residence, he learned that he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Taiwan, where he will teach nonfiction writing in the spring of 2021.