Jane Smiley

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Jane Smiley
Jane smiley 2009.jpg
Jane Smiley at the 2009 Texas Book Festival
Born (1949-09-26) September 26, 1949 (age 66)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Nationality American
Known for Fiction

Jane Smiley (born September 26, 1949) is an American novelist. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1992 for her novel A Thousand Acres (1991).


Born in Los Angeles, California, Smiley grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and graduated from Community School and from John Burroughs School. She obtained a BA in literature at Vassar College (1971), then earned an MA (1975), MFA (1976), and PhD (1978) from the University of Iowa. [1] While working towards her doctorate, she also spent a year studying in Iceland as a Fulbright Scholar. From 1981 to 1996 she was a Professor of English at Iowa State University,[1] teaching undergraduate and graduate creative writing workshops, and continuing to teach there even after relocating to California.


Smiley published her first novel, Barn Blind, in 1980, and won a 1985 O. Henry Award for her short story "Lily", which was published in The Atlantic Monthly. Her best-selling A Thousand Acres, a story based on William Shakespeare's King Lear, received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1992. It was adapted into a film of the same title in 1997. In 1995 she wrote her sole television script, produced for an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. Her novella The Age of Grief was made into the 2002 film The Secret Lives of Dentists. Her essay "Feminism Meets the Free Market" was included in the 2006 anthology Mommy Wars [2] by Washington Post writer Leslie Morgan Steiner. Her essay "Why Bother?" appears in the anthology Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting, published by W. W. Norton & Company in 2013. Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel (2005), is a non-fiction meditation on the history and the nature of the novel, somewhat in the tradition of E. M. Forster's seminal Aspects of the Novel, that roams from eleventh century Japan's Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji to 21st-century American women's literature.

In 2001, Smiley was elected a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters. She participates in the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in association with UCLA. She won the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006,[3] and chaired the judges' panel for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize in 2009.[4]

Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections, believes Smiley's book The Greenlanders is greatly under-appreciated and among the best contemporary works of American fiction.[5]

Jane Smiley speaking at the Vancouver Writers Fest on her 2014 novel, Some Luck

Smiley is currently at work on a trilogy of novels about an Iowa family over the course of generations. The first novel of the trilogy, Some Luck, was published in 2014 by Random House.[6]



  • Barn Blind (1980)
  • At Paradise Gate (1981)
  • Duplicate Keys (1984)
  • The Greenlanders (1988)
  • A Thousand Acres (1991)
  • Moo (1995)
  • The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton (1998)
  • Horse Heaven (2000)
  • Good Faith (2003)
  • Ten Days in the Hills (2007)
  • The Georges and the Jewels (UK title: Nobody's Horse) (2009)
  • Private Life (2010)
  • A Good Horse (2010)
  • Some Luck (2014)
  • Early Warning (April, 2015)
  • Golden Age (October 20, 2015)

Short story collections[edit]

  • The Age of Grief (1987)
  • Ordinary Love & Good Will (1989)

Non-fiction books[edit]

  • Catskill Crafts (1988)
  • Charles Dickens (2003)
  • A Year at the Races: Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money, and Luck (2004)
  • Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel (2005)
  • The Man Who Invented The Computer (2010)

Young adult novels[edit]

  • The Georges and the Jewels (2009)
  • A Good Horse (2010)
  • True Blue (2011)
  • Pie in the Sky (2012)
  • Gee Whiz (2013)



  1. ^ a b Biography at the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  2. ^ Mommywars.net
  3. ^ "Winners". PEN Center USA. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  4. ^ Man Booker Prize
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Neary, Lynn (5 October 2014). "For Her First Trilogy, Jane Smiley Returns To Iowa, 'Where The Roots Are'". NPR Books. NPR. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 

External links[edit]