Julia Cooke's essays have been published in A Public Space, Salon, The Threepenny Review, Smithsonian, Tin House, and Virginia Quarterly Review, where she is a contributing editor. Her reporting has been published in Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times, Playboy, The Village Voice, The Atavist, Saveur, and more. She was a finalist for a 2014 Livingston Award in International Reporting for her profile of a young Cuban sex worker; her article about the blossoming of architecture and design in Havana won a 2016 New York Press Club Award. Her work has been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing 2014, Best Women's Travel Writing (Volume 9), One World, Many Cultures (10th edition), and noted in Best American Essays 2016 and Best American Travel Writing 2017.
She's written about the Portuguese seaside town that inspired Ian Fleming's James Bond and translating for a Guatemalan asylum-seeker, profiled the most prolific design writer in the U.S. and Mexico City's best-known contemporary artist, and considered why American TV watchers love female spies. Julia is the recipient of fellowships from The Norman Mailer Center, The Constance Saltonstall Foundation, and Columbia University. She holds an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and an MFA from Columbia University.
Her first book, The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba, published in 2014, was called "absorbing, touching... wonderful vignettes covering the daily lives of Cubans in which their hopes, dreams, and frustrations are revealed." by Booklist and "incomparable" by Time Out New York, and other things by other people. She has discussed contemporary Cuba on PBS' Charlie Rose Show, NPR's All Things Considered, and PRI's The World, as well as in lectures at the World Affairs Councils of Houston, Oregon, Naples, and other colleges and institutions around the United States.