|Born||6 May 1983|
Ling Ma is a Chinese American novelist and Assistant Professor of Practice in the Arts at the University of Chicago. Her first book, Severance, won a 2018 Kirkus Prize as well as being listed as a New York Times Notable Book of 2018 and shortlisted for the 2019 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award.
Ma was born in Sanming, Fujian, 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.
Ma's debut novel, 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." Severance is a novel that is partially post-apocalyptic horror, and partially office satire. It follows the novel's narrator after the aftermath of the outbreak of a deadly fever that has killed almost everyone in the US. An earlier chapter from the book won a 2015 Disquiet Literary Prize, the Graywolf Prize.
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 took four years to write it, and finished the novel at Cornell as part of the work in her MFA program. She said that she watched George Romero films while working on Severance, and also The Walking Dead.
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."
- "2018 Finalists". Kirkus Reviews. 2016-11-11. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
- "Announcing the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Finalists". PEN America. 2019-01-15. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
- 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.
- 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.
- "Severance - Ling Ma - About the Author". US Macmillan. Retrieved 2019-01-22.[verification needed]
- SEVERANCE by Ling Ma | Kirkus Reviews.
- Schaub, Michael. "'Office politics is, to some degree, horrifying' - Ling Ma on her horror-satire 'Severance'". latimes.com. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
- "'Severance' Is the Apocalyptic Millennial New York Immigrant Story You Didn't Know You Needed". Electric Literature. 2018-08-14. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
- "Finalist winners 2015". Disquiet International. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
- 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.
- Hitchens, Antonia (2018-11-21). "The End Is Near in Two Dystopian Debut Novels". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
- Day, Madeline (2018-08-22). "Apocalyptic Office Novel: An Interview with Ling Ma". The Paris Review. Retrieved 2019-01-23.[verification needed]
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