David Rakoff was born in Montreal, Canada on November 27, 1964. He received a bachelor's degree in East Asian studies from Columbia University in 1986. He briefly worked in Japan as a translator before being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. He moved back to Canada for more than a year of treatment and remained free of cancer for two decades. Before becoming a full-time writer, he worked as an editor and publicist for various publishers. His essays appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, GQ, Details, Salon, and Slate. He also wrote three essay collections. Fraud and Don't Get Too Comfortable received Lambda Literary Awards and Half Empty received the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He appeared frequently on This American Life. He also acted in several stage plays written by David Sedaris. He wrote the screen adaptation for, and starred in, a 20-minute film, The New Tenants, which won the Academy Award for best live-action short film in 2009. He died from cancer on August 9, 2012 at the age of 47.