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Tayari Jones

Bestselling Author of An American Marriage

Tayari Jones’s AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE has been named a 2018 Oprah’s Book Club Selection, and is a New York Times (#2), Indie Bound, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller with 250,000 copies in print, all within two weeks of its release. This story of a marriage torn apart by a wrongful conviction has been called “haunting . . . beautifully written” (The New York Times Book Review) and “brilliant and heartbreaking . . . unforgettable” (USA Today).

“It’s among Tayari’s many gifts that she can touch us soul to soul with her words,” says Oprah Winfrey. The novel has been called “exquisite, timely and powerful” (Edwidge Danticat), and Jones has been praised for her “compassionate observation, her clear-eyed insight and her beautifully written and complex characters” (Amy Bloom) and “heartbreaking and genuinely suspenseful love story” (Tom Perrotta). Michael Chabon says that Jones’s “vision . . . strength, and . . . truth-telling voice have found a new level of artistry and power.”

Jones was born and raised in Atlanta, and much of her writing centers on the urban South. “Although I now live in the Northeast,” she explains, “my imagination lives in Atlanta.” Her previous novel, SILVER SPARROW, a story of a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and the two teenage girls caught in the middle, was chosen for the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Library. Her first novel, LEAVING ATLANTA, a coming-of-age story set against the city’s infamous African American child murders of 1979–81, won the Hurston/Wright Award for debut fiction. Her second novel, THE UNTELLING, about a family struggling to overcome the aftermath of a fatal car accident, received the Lillian Smith Book Award from the Southern Regional Council and the University of Georgia Libraries. The Village Voice wrote, “Tayari Jones is fast defining black middle-class Atlanta the way that Cheever did for Westchester.”

Jones currently serves on the MFA faculty of Rutgers University–Newark. She is spending the 2017–18 academic year as the Shearing Fellow for Distinguished Writers at the Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is a graduate of Spelman College (BA), the University of Iowa (MA), and Arizona State University (MFA). While at Spelman, she met the then-president, Johnnetta Cole, who had heard that Jones was a writer and asked her, “How’s the writing?” “It was like someone had touched me with a magic wand, and I started taking my writing more seriously,” Jones says. She spent the 2011–12 academic year as a Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard. An accomplished and witty speaker, she has spoken at hundreds of colleges and universities, libraries, writers’ conferences, and literary series all over the country.

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Speaking Topics

  • An American Marriage: A Love Story Torn Apart by Social Injustice
  • Silver Sparrow: A Bigamist's Family and Secret Sisters
  • Changing Lives: Mentoring Young Writers
  • Historical Memory as a Source of Inspiration for Writers


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