Joy Williams (American writer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Joy Williams
Born (1944-02-11) February 11, 1944 (age 72)
Chelmsford, Massachusetts
Occupation novelist, short story writer, essayist
Nationality American
Period 1973 – present
Genre Literary fiction

Joy Williams (born February 11, 1944) is an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist.


Williams is the author of four novels. Her first, State of Grace (1973), was nominated for a National Book Award for Fiction. Her most recent novel, The Quick and the Dead (2000), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Her first collection of short stories was Taking Care, published in 1982. A second collection, Escapes, followed in 1990. A 2001 essay collection, Ill Nature: Rants and Reflections on Humanity and Other Animals, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. Honored Guest, a collection of short stories, was published in 2004. A 30th anniversary reprint of The Changeling was issued in 2008 with an introduction by the American novelist Rick Moody.[1]

Her stories and essays are frequently anthologized, and she has received many awards and honors, including the Harold and Mildred Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Rea Award for the Short Story.

Williams was born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.[2] She received a BA from Marietta College and a MFA from the University of Iowa. She has taught creative writing at the University of Houston, the University of Florida, the University of Iowa, and the University of Arizona.[3] For the 2008-2009 academic year, Williams was the writer-in-residence at the University of Wyoming, and continued thereafter as an affiliated faculty member of the English department. She lives in Key West, Florida, and Tucson, Arizona. Williams was married for 34 years to L. Rust Hills,[4] fiction editor for Esquire, until his death on August 12, 2008.[5]


Williams's fiction often portrays life as a downward spiral, and the failure of life in America, from a spiritual as well as economic perspective, as a virtual certainty. Her characters, generally from the middle class, frequently fall from it, at times in bizarre fashion, in a form of cultural dispossession.[6] Characters are usually divorced, children are abandoned, and their lives are consumed with fear, often irrational, such as the little girl in the story "The Excursion" who is terrified that birds will fly out of her toilet bowl.[7]

Published work[edit]


  • State of Grace (1973)
  • The Changeling (1978)
  • Breaking and Entering (1988)
  • The Quick and the Dead (2000)

Story collections[edit]

  • Taking Care (1982)
  • Escapes (1990)
  • Honored Guest (2004)
  • 99 Stories of God (2016)
  • The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories (2015)


  • Ill Nature: Rants and Reflections on Humanity and Other Animals (essays) (2001)
  • The Florida Keys: A History & Guide, illustrated by Robert Carawan (Tenth Edition) (2003)


  1. ^ Fairy Tale Review Press (September 13, 2007)
  2. ^ Garrison Keillor (February 2006). "The Writer's Almanac: Saturday, 11 February 2006". The Writer's Almanac from American Public Media. Retrieved 2007-04-12. 
  3. ^ "Joy Williams, Winner 1999". n.d. Retrieved 2015-08-08. 
  4. ^ McClellan, Dennis (August 16, 2008). "L. Rust Hills, 1924-2008: Longtime fiction editor at Esquire". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Schudel, Matt (August 17, 2008). "L. Rust Hills, 83; Edited Renowned Fiction Writers for Esquire". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Thompson, "Carolyn Chute and Joy Williams" (1992), 209, 218.
  7. ^ Gelfant, Columbia Companion (2001), 574.


  • The Writer's Almanac: Saturday, 11 February 2006 by Garrison Keillor. The Writer's Almanac from American Public Media (February 2006). Retrieved on 2007 April 12.
  • "Joy Williams, Winner 1999" [press release], undated. Retrieved on 2015 August 8.
  • Gelfant, Blanche. The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.
  • Thompson, James R. "Carolyn Chute and Joy Williams: Alternate Voices of Rage and Curious Dismay," in Constructing the Eighties: Versions of an American Decade, eds. Walter Grunzweig, Roberta Maierhofer, & Adolf Wimmer. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag, 1992.

External links[edit]