Associate professor Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism;
Former New York Times correspondent in Africa, Japan, China
travels from New York
Howard French has called Africa, the Americas, Japan and China as his home, and got the best out of it. As a professional photographer he had a very keen eye for those details that matter. As correspondent for the New York Times, he was not only an alert observer of the society he was in, but was able to compare and connect between those worlds, much to the benefit of his audience.
In the summer of 2008 he left Shanghai for a position as associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he began teaching in September 2008.
In 2017 he published his most recent book Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power.
Before that, in 2014, he published his bestseller:China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa.
From 1986 to 2008, Howard was a reporter for The New York Times, and 18 of those years, from 1990 to 2008, were spent working overseas.
He was hired by the Times in 1986, and worked as a Metropolitan reporter for three years, and from 1990 to 2008 reported for the Times. French worked successively as bureau chief for Central American and the Caribbean; West and Central Africa; Japan and the Koreas; and China (Shanghai).
During his career at the Times, French was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and was twice the recipient of an Overseas Press Club Award. He also won seven Publisher’s Awards from the Times.
From 2005 to 2008, alongside his work for the Times, French was a weekly columnist on global affairs for The International Herald Tribune.
French’s career in journalism began as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post and many other publications in West Africa in the 1980s. Prior to that, he worked as a French-English translator in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in the early 1980s, and taught English literature at the University of Ivory Coast.
French is the author of A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa (Knopf 2004), which was named non-fiction book of the year by several newspapers, and won the 2005 American Library Association Black Caucus Award for Non-Fiction, and was a finalist for both the Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage and for the Hurston-Wright Foundation’s non-fiction prize. Other awards include an honorary doctorate from the University of Maryland.
His work has been published widely, including The Nation, the New York Review of Books, Transition, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Crisis, Travel and Leisure.
French is also an internationally exhibited documentary photographer, whose work, “Disappearing Shanghai,” a visual exploration of the last of Shanghai’s historic old neighborhoods, has been featured in solo and group shows in Asia, Europe and North America. Prints from Disappearing Shanghai have been acquired by the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis, as part of its permanent collection.
At present, French is editing a book of his Shanghai photography, and is seeking a publisher. This work can be seen at howardwfrench.net. Information about acquiring prints can be found there, or through direct query.
French lives in New York City, where in addition to teaching, he works as a freelance journalist. A list of recent publications can be found here.
French is a frequent public speaker on a variety of topics, including China, Africa, world affairs, journalism and photography.
Has China become an imperial force, asks Howard French at China File.
At the Huffington Post Howard French discusses the China-Africa relationship.