Born in New York City in 1945, Kidder spent his childhood in Oyster Bay, Long Island, where his father was a lawyer and his mother taught high school English. He graduated from Phillips Academy in 1963. He originally majored in political science at Harvard University, but switched to English after taking a course in creative writing from Robert Fitzgerald. He earned his BA in 1967. From June 1968 until June 1969, he served as a lieutenant in Vietnam, for which he was awarded a Bronze Star, an experience chronicled in his memoir My Detachment. Kidder now lives in Massachusetts and Maine.
Kidder attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and obtained his MA from the University of Iowa in 1974. It was there that Kidder met Atlantic Monthly contributing editor Dan Wakefield who helped him get his first assignment for the magazine as a freelance writer.
He has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and many other literary prizes.
Kidder also wrote Mountains Beyond Mountains, My Detachment, Home Town, Old Friends, Among Schoolchildren, House, and The Soul of a New Machine.
Kidder relates that in 2003 he and his wife went to visit Paul Farmer, the main character of Mountains Beyond Mountains, in his apartment at Harvard, where he was laid up after a knee operation. “A young African, a protégé of Farmer’s named Deogratias happened to be there, and as it turned out I spent most of the time talking with Paul while my wife talked with Deo. On the ride home, she told me the rough outlines of the story that Deo had told her, and that memory of a second-hand account of Deo’s memories stuck with me for several years, until finally I decided that I should hear the story for myself. The book I wrote about him is called Strength in What Remains. (NYT: August 28, 2009)
Resources for this information:
includes CNN's "Inside Africa" talks with Tracy Kidder and Deogratias Niyizonkiza, the protagonist in Kidder's book The Strength of What Remains and a book trailer for Kidder's award-winning book, Strength in What Remains.
Youtube Strength in what remains
Youtube: C-SPAN Q&A
Tracy Kidder’s website
An interview with Tracy Kidder
Reading together Kalamazoo Public Library