Ling Ma is a Chinese American novelist and professor whose first book, Severance, won a 2018 Kirkus Prize as well as being listed as a New York Times Notable Book of 2018. She teaches writing at the University of Chicago. Severance is described as "a biting indictment of late-stage capitalism and a chilling vision of what comes after, but that doesn’t mean it’s a Marxist screed or a dry Hobbesian thought experiment." An earlier chapter from the book won a 2015 Disquiet Literary Prize, the Graywolf Prize.
Ma said she "felt pressured to write a traditional immigration novel" while in the MFA program at Cornell, but instead decided to write about otherness and alienation via the trope of zombie apocalypse. Ma's main character is, like her, a first generation immigrant. The New York Times review states that "laced within its dystopian narrative is an encapsulation of a first-generation immigrant’s nostalgia for New York."
Ma began the novel while working as a fact checker for Playboy, a job she held from 2009 to 2012. It began as a short story, written in her office during her last few months there; after her layoff, it became a novel which she wrote while living on severance pay.  She finished it at Cornell as part of the work in her MFA program. Ma has also published short stories in Granta, Playboy, and the Chicago Reader.
Ma was born in Sanming, China, an only child because of China's "one-child policy". She grew up in Utah, Nebraska, and Kansas. She has an AB from the University of Chicago and received an MFA from Cornell University. She is Assistant Professor of Practice in the Arts at the University of Chicago.
- "2018 Finalists". Kirkus Reviews. 2016-11-11. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
- Feder, James (2016-11-11). "Ling Ma Interview". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
- "Finalist winners 2015". Disquiet International. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
- Borrelli, Christopher (2019-01-15). "Chicago author Ling Ma never thought she'd write a zombie apocalypse novel. Here's what changed her mind". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
- Hitchens, Antonia (2018-11-21). "The End Is Near in Two Dystopian Debut Novels". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
- Ma, Ling (2018-08-10). "Crying At The Playboy Office". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
- Fan, Jiayang (December 10, 2018). "Ling Ma's "Severance" Captures the Bleak, Fatalistic Mood of 2018". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
- Morgan, Adam (2018-08-14). "In 'Severance,' Ling Ma Destroys New York City". Chicago Review of Books. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
- Day, Madeline (2018-08-22). "Apocalyptic Office Novel: An Interview with Ling Ma". The Paris Review. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
- Shapiro, Ari (2018-08-10). "In Satirical 'Severance,' A Stricken Country Works Itself To Death". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
- Ma, Ling. "Bio". Tumblr. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
- "Severance - Ling Ma - About the Author". US Macmillan. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
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