James Hannaham (born 1968) is a writer, performer, and visual artist. His novel Delicious Foods (2015), which deals with human trafficking, won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and was named one of Publisher’s Weekly’s top ten books of the year. The New York Times called it an “ambitious, sweeping novel of American captivity and exploitation.”
He studied art at Yale University and in 1992 began working in the art department of The Village Voice as well as writing for the paper. Later he studied creative writing at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas. His debut novel, God Says No (2009), was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He has published short stories in One Story, Fence, StoryQuarterly, and BOMB. He reviews theater and art for 4Columns.
He cofounded the New York–based performance group Elevator Repair Service and worked with them 1992–2002. His text-based artworks often satirize the theoretical jargon that is used to describe visual art; his 2014 gallery show "Card Tricks" consisted of descriptive placards for fictive artworks, with titles such as "Planet" and "Nothing."
Hannaham was born in the Bronx and grew up in Yonkers, NY, where his mother was an investigative journalist. His early experience was marked by the legal battle to end segregation in the Yonkers schools, which his mother covered for the radio. His cousin is the artist Kara Walker, who illustrated the cover of Delicious Foods.
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