Michael Zadoorian (born February 26, 1957) is an American novelist and short story writer. Zadoorian’s work explores themes of love, death, music, memory, things forgotten and found again, the eidetic power of photographic images, and Detroit. He is best known as the author of The Leisure Seeker, published in 2009 by William Morrow and Company. In 2018, it was adapted for a motion picture starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, and directed by Italian film director, Paolo Virzi. The film was released in March 2018. A new novel, Beautiful Music was published in May 2018 by Akashic Books.
Zadoorian was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Rosemary Zadoorian (Spala) and Norman Zadoorian, an industrial photographer. He graduated from Wayne State University in 1979, with a B.A. in Communications and minor in English. In the late eighties, he returned to Wayne State, where he studied with writers Charles Baxter, Samuel Astrachan and Christopher Towne Leland, winning three Tompkins Awards for fiction and essay and a Loughead-Eldridge Creative Writing Scholarship. He earned an M.A. in Creative Writing in 1994.
His short stories have appeared in The Literary Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, American Short Fiction, Great Lakes Review, Wisconsin Review, Witness, North American Review and the anthologies Detroit Noir, On The Clock and Bob Seger’s House.
In 2000, W.W. Norton published his first novel, Second Hand, about a Detroit-area vintage store owner searching for meaning in other people’s junk. The New York Times Book Review called it "a gift from the (Tiki) gods" and "a romantic adventure that explores what Yeats called 'the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.'” The book was awarded the Great Lakes Colleges Association First Fiction Award and was selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers and Book Sense 76 programs.
In 2009, William Morrow published his second novel, The Leisure Seeker, a road novel about John and Ella, an elderly couple who escape the doctors and adult children who control their lives, to take a final vacation together. Booklist, in a starred review stated: “The Leisure Seeker is pretty much like life itself: joyous, painful, funny, moving, tragic, mysterious, and not to be missed.” The Los Angeles Times review called the novel a "heartfelt story of the grown children dealing with "stuff," both physical and emotional, left over after the death of their parents". It was a bestseller in Italy and long-listed for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Also in 2009, Wayne State University Press published The Lost Tiki Palaces Of Detroit, a collection of stories, which received a Michigan Notable Book award.
In 2010, he received the Anahid Literary Award from Columbia University. In 2013, he was the recipient of a Kresge Artist Fellowship in the Literary Arts.
In 2016, at the Cannes Film Festival, award-winning Italian director Paolo Virzi announced that The Leisure Seeker would be his first English language film, with Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland starring as Ella and John. The script was adapted by Francesca Archibugi, Francesco Piccolo, Stephen Amidon and Virzi. Filming commenced in July, 2016 in Georgia and wrapped September 2016 in Key West, Florida. Sony Pictures Classics acquired all rights for the U.S., Latin America, Asia (excluding Japan), Eastern Europe, Portugal and South Africa, and the film was released in March of 2018 in the United States.
In 2018, Zadoorian's newest novel, Beautiful Music, was released by Akashic Books. Set in 1970’s era Detroit, Beautiful Music is the story of one young man’s transformation through music. Danny Yzemski is a husky, pop radio–loving loner balancing a dysfunctional home life with the sudden harsh realities of freshman year at a high school marked by racial turbulence. When tragedy strikes the family, Danny’s mother becomes increasingly erratic and angry about the seismic cultural shifts unfolding in her city and the world. As she tries to keep it together with the help of Librium, highballs, and breakfast cereal, Danny finds his own reason to carry on: rock ‘n’ roll. In particular, the drum and guitar–heavy songs of local legends like the MC5 and Iggy Pop. Beautiful Music received a Michigan Notable Book Award in 2019 as well as the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association "Great Lakes Great Reads" award for Adult Fiction in 2018.
In 2020, Akashic Books will release his fourth novel, The Narcissism of Small Differences.