David Cohen is a Wellington-based writer and journalist whose work has appeared frequently in publications in New Zealand and abroad. An anthology, Greatest Hits: A Quarter Century of Journalistic Encounters, Cultural Fulminations and Notes on Lost Cities, was published in 2014. The English writer Julie Burchill hailed the collection as 'a brilliant album'. The New Zealand Herald described it as 'fearless'.
Cohen's experience as a food critic and his longstanding interest in Jewish subjects (he contributed a chapter to Jewish Lives In New Zealand published by Godwit) led him to collaborate with the Auckland restaurateur Yael Shochat on Ima Cuisine: An Israeli Mother’s Kitchen (2016).
Cohen’s work has often been prompted by personal experiences and circumstances. A Perfect World is a combined family memoir and investigative journalism on the subject of autism, based on his experience as the father of an autistic son; while Little Criminals uses Epuni Boys' Home as a basis to study New Zealand’s now-scandalous residential juvenile criminal system of the 1950s to 1980s. The book would provide the basis for a documentary of the same name.
Roy Richard Grinker, a professor of anthropology at George Washington University and the author of Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism, has praised Cohen for his ‘erudition and literary elegance’, calling him a ‘gifted writer’ who ‘moves so gracefully across narratives, scientific discourses, artistic genres, historical periods and continents that you hardly notice the full force of his prose until the conclusion when, suddenly, it hits you: Cohen has made us see autism as an essential part of the human condition.’
Man Booker Prize short lister Lloyd Jones wrote of Little Criminals: ‘David Cohen has taken an important piece of social history and unpacked it in a highly imaginative way. It is completely engrossing.’