Yesterday, the New York Times ran an op-ed piece by a 24-year-old Brooklyn lad named Ben Dolnick, about his summer working at the Central Park Zoo. Dolnick's first novel, Zoology, was published last month, and it's about an 18-year-old boy from Chevy Chase, Md. (where Dolnick is from, too!) who goes to work at the Central Park Zoo. In a wee review, the New Yorker wrote that "Dolnick seems to share some of his protagonist's immaturity, but he demonstrates an engaging lightness of touch." The book seems to be—we haven't read it—a pretty slight coming-of-age novel in which the protagonist barely comes of age. (It's blurbed by Jonathan Safran Foer, but still! UPDATE: We have learned that they went to the same D.C. private school.) Dolnick's doing pretty well for himself! It probably helps that Dolnick's mom, Lynn Dolnick, is Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr.'s cousin. Also, she sits on the board of the New York Times Company. Not that the Times, which seems to get its panties in a bunch about conflicts of interest and disclosures and the like, mentioned that. But there's more of this web to untangle.
Lynn Dolnick is International Herald Tribune publisher Michael Golden's sister. Her other brother is Arthur Golden, who wrote the book Memoirs of a Geisha. (Handy! Arthur is introducing his nephew at a reading next month outside of Boston.) The Golden siblings' mom, Ruth Sulzberger Golden Holmberg (she divorced their dad in 1965), was the former chairman of the Chattanooga Times, which Ruth's grandfather, Adolph Ochs, had bought when he was 19, starting his newspaper empire that would eventually include the New York Times.
Ben Dolnick also has zoology in his background. For years, his mom was the associate director for Exhibits and Outreach at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Must run in the family.
If I Worked At The Zoo [NYT]