Sara Gruen is a Canadian-born dual citizen (Canadian and American) author. Her books deal greatly with animals and she is a supporter of numerous charitable organizations that support animals and wildlife.
Sara Gruen moved to the United States from Canada in 1999 for a technical writing job. When she got laid off two years later, she decided to try her hand at writing fiction. A devoted animal lover, her first novel, Riding Lessons, explored the intimate and often healing spaces between people and animals and was a USA Today bestseller. She wrote a second novel, Flying Changes, also about horses.
Sara Gruen’s awards include the 2007 Book Sense Book of the Year Award, the Cosmo Fun Fearless Fiction Award, the Bookbrowse Diamond Award for Most Popular Book, the Friends of American Literature Adult Fiction Award and the ALA/Alex Award 2007. Sara Gruen lives in the south with her husband, sons, horses, dogs, cats and a goat.
Gruen's first two novels, Riding Lessons and Flying Changes, have sold several hundred thousands of copies; "Riding Lessons" was a best seller. Her third release, Water for Elephants, was initially turned down by her publisher at the time, Avon Books, a HarperCollins imprint, forcing Gruen to find another publisher. . In 2007, Gruen sold her fourth novel, Ape House, on the basis of a 12-page summary to Spiegel & Grau, who won Ape House and another novel in a a bidding war with 8 other publishers. . The New York Times has reported on how the megadeal has changed Gruen's life:
Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants has become one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of our time. Readers fell in love with Water for Elephants and its story of Jacob, a young man tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, and Rosie, the untrainable elephant. This instant #1 New York Times bestseller is now available in 44 languages and has over 3 million copies in print worldwide. The movie version is in the works, starring Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, and Robert Pattinson (2011 release).
On September 7, 2010, Spiegel and Grau / Random House will publish Ape House, which features the amazing Bonobo ape. When a number of apes are kidnapped from a language laboratory, their mysterious appearance on a reality TV show calls into question our assumptions about these animals who share 99.4% of our DNA. Gruen has had a life-long fascination with human-ape discourse, with a particular interest in Bonobo apes. She has studied linguistics and a system of lexigrams in order to communicate with apes, and is one of the few visitors who has been allowed access to the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, where the apes have come to love her. In bringing her experience and research to bear on this novel, she opens the animal world to us as few novelists have done. Ape House is a riveting, funny, compassionate, and, finally, deeply moving new novel that secures Sara Gruen’s place as a master storyteller who allows us to see ourselves as we never have before.