Sandy Ernest Allen is a writer, journalist and speaker. His work focuses on normalcy, especially to do with gender and mental health.
Sandy's debut book, A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise: A True Story about Schizophrenia, was published by Scribner (hardcover in 2018, paperback in 2019). The book is a radical and innovative work, composed in two fonts, and based on a "true story" mailed to Sandy by his late Uncle Bob, a desert-dwelling hermit.
AKOMP was praised by many publications, including The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, O Magazine, Bitch, The New Republic, The Week, Vogue, The Rumpus, and Esquire, which named it one of the best nonfiction books of 2018. In 2020, AKOMP was longlisted by New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute as one of the top works of journalism of the last decade. That summer, the story of how Uncle Bob inspired Sandy's own path was also featured on This American Life. Sandy is writing its sequel, which focuses on the future of mental health care.
Sandy's essays and features have been published by The Cut, Gay Magazine, Guernica, CNN Opinion, Bon Appétit's Healthyish, BuzzFeed News, Pop Up Magazine, and the podcast 99% Invisible, among others. He also wrote a column for them. called Between the Binary. Full list of clips here. Sandy has received such honors as a UC Berkeley 11th-Hour Food and Farming Fellowship (2017) and a fellowship at MacDowell (2017).
In 2019, along with producer Lee Mengistu, Sandy co-created and hosted Mad Chat, a podcast about pop culture and mental health. The podcast's 10-episode pilot season was lauded by The AV Club, O Magazine, Self, and the New York Times, which raved: "Listening feels like hanging out with two of your smartest and funniest friends." Much more about Mad Chat at its website.
Sandy is working on numerous other projects, including for the stage and screen. He has previously adapted nonfiction IP and his own pieces have been optioned as well. In 2020, Sandy hosted an instructional series on sourdough baking called Breb Class (a project with Rob; featured in this article in Taste).
Prior to selling his book, Sandy had worked as an editor. From 2013 to 2015, Sandy was BuzzFeed News' Deputy Features Editor, helping to establish a longform journalism presence on the site. During that time he aided in the publication of roughly 200 long essays and features; here were some of his favorites. In 2009, Sandy co-founded and then ran the online literary magazine Wag's Revue, which he ran until its conclusion in 2015. Wag's is now defunct but its twenty issues are still available for free.
Originally from a small beach town in northern California, Sandy is a graduate of Brown University and has an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Iowa. He has previously taught literature and nonfiction writing to a variety of people in a variety of contexts, including online for Catapult.
Sandy is queer and transgender and uses he/him and they/them pronouns. He lives in the Catskills, in upstate New York, with many plants, dogs, cats, a sourdough starter, and his husband, Rob Dubbin. Sandy is often found baking breb or growing food. Sandy is no longer on social media. To learn about his newest work and so on, subscribe to his very occasional and sorta self-care-focused newsletter, What's Helping Today.
Here's a photo of him right after he harvested a lot of beets: