Helen Zuman is a tree-hugging dirt worshipper devoted to turning waste into food and the stinky guck of experience into fertile, fragrant prose. She holds a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard and a Half-FA in memoir from Hunter College. Raised in Brooklyn, she lives with her husband in Beacon, NY and Black Mountain, NC.
A Harvard grad seeks a mate in a cult that forbids monogamy. To pursue love on her own terms, she must brave exile and learn self-trust. When recent Harvard grad Helen Zuman moved to Zendik Farm in 1999, she was thrilled to discover that the Zendiks used go-betweens to arrange sexual assignations, or “dates,” in […]
Just as the Zendik community, a cult, pulled Helen Zuman in and held her, her account of her time there will pull you in and hold you. Her clear-eyed observations of her fellow idealists—and of herself—are honest, compelling, and sophisticated.
– DANIEL MENAKER, author of My Mistake: A Memoir
[Zuman’s] whip-smart prose…conveys the squalid exuberance of Zendik’s blend of idealism and fraud [in this] engrossing and offbeat story of ideological bonds that chafe—and sometimes liberate.
– KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred review)
Zuman’s entertaining depiction of life in a cult pits the appeal of belonging versus the desire for self-determination. An enlightening read.
– JULIA SCHEERES, author of A Thousand Lives and Jesus Land
I am an ex-cultist; I am a life coach. As a life coach, I use a tool called the Model (developed by Life Coach School founder Brooke Castillo). It’s based on these premises: that circumstances—facts—are neutral, i.e., don’t mean anything until we have a thought about them. That our thoughts create our feelings, which drive […]
by helenzuman in General
I wrote this piece months ago, and recorded it for my podcast; I am posting it now from the Isle of Skye. On Monday, December 27, 2021, my friend Lyndon McLeod shot and killed five people, wounded two more, and was shot to death himself, in Denver, Colorado. I first got wind of the shootings […]
This is an excerpt from Mating in Captivity, my memoir of five years in a cult called Zendik Farm. In this scene, I’m on an “out,” which I’m hoping will fix what I see as my lack of commitment to Zendik. The first thing I noticed about the woman who pulled over for me, about […]