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Marc Anthony Richardson

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Marc Anthony Richardson
Richardson in 2020
Richardson in 2020
Born (1972-12-07) December 7, 1972 (age 51)
Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materAntioch College, Mills College
GenreLiterary fiction and poetry
Notable awardsAmerican Book Award, Creative Capital Award

Marc Anthony Richardson (born December 7, 1972) is an American novelist and artist. He won an American Book Award and a Creative Capital Award.

Life and work[edit]

Born in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, Richardson was raised in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia by his mother, Betty Jean Richardson (née Williams), and his father, Malcolm Anthony Richardson. He is the youngest of their three sons. At 16, his parents separated, and his mother moved him and her out of their home. In 1991, he graduated from the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (where he won awards for illustration), and went on to earn his BFA from Antioch College (where he studied with Martia Golden and was a finalist for the 1994 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers).[1] He earned his MFA from Mills College (where he studied with Micheline Aharonian Marcom and was a nominee for Best New American Voice 2010).

For over two decades, Richardson worked as a direct-care, social service counselor in day schools and group homes for youth in the Bay Area, in group homes for adults in New York City, and in Philadelphia public schools. Prior to Mills, he worked as a visual artist and a nude model. Though an exceptional freestyle dancer, he focused on art. He briefly studied drawing, painting, and printmaking at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts on a partial scholarship, but returned to writing because of a lack of funding.

Year of the Rat, his debut novel, won the 2015 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize.[2] In 2017, it was awarded an American Book Award[3] from the Before Columbus Foundation, founded by Ishmael Reed. On being included with other winners, Richardson wrote, “To win a writer’s award from award-winning writers is a chance to be in bed with as many human beings as humanly possible."[4] The ceremony took place at the San Francisco Jazz Center and was televised on C-SPAN.

Year of the Rat, a Künstlerroman, draws heavily from his personal experiences, as well as from those of his family members, past and present, delving into philosophical rants, poetry, social satire, and ribald, phantasmagoric language. Over the course of a decade, many of the incidents written in the book were freshly experienced by the author, such as his father's death and the near-death accounts of his mother and himself. Year of the Rat was published on her 72nd birthday, the day of her successful heart surgery. Initially, one reviewer wrote that "the book is certainly unique in voice and style, but it’s also frightening, ugly, dense, and borderline offensive...it will make all but the most experimental of readers throw it across a room."[5]

Messiahs, a speculative novel, fixes on an anonymous couple, an Asian American woman and an African American man. The man volunteered imprisonment on behalf of his wrongfully convicted nephew, yet―after over two years on death row―was "exonerated". In this dystopian society, proxies are allowed on death row in place of their convicted kin, as acts of holy reform. The initiative is based on the Passion of Christ.[6][7] Messiahs was published nearly two months after the death of Richardson's mother. It was nominated as a fiction finalist for the 2021 Big Other Book Award.[8]

Richardson was also a recipient of a PEN America grant, a Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright fellowship, an Art Omi[9] residency, a Vermont Studio Center residency, and was an Andrew W. Mellon Scholar-in-residence at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. His work has appeared in Conjunctions, Callaloo, Black Warrior Review, Western Humanities Review, and the Anthology Who Will Speak for America? from Temple University Press. He taught at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, and currently teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.[10] In 2021, he received a Creative Capital Award and a Sachs Program Grant for Arts Innovation for his work-in-progress, The Serpent Will Eat Whatever Is in the Belly of the Beast.[11][12] Concerning the Creative Capital Award, Richardson stated: "This award supports the artists who work with no limitations in mind, no allegiances―whose diverse experiences require divergent formats."[13] In 2024, he received an Artist Practitioner Fellowship from the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA) at Brown University.[14]

Honors and awards[edit]


  • The Serpent Will Eat Whatever is in the Belly of the Beast (Deep Vellum/Dalkey Archive Press) Forthcoming
  • Messiahs (Fiction Collective Two/University of Alabama Press) 2021. ISBN 978-15736619
  • Year of the Rat (Fiction Collective Two/University of Alabama Press) 2016. ISBN 978-1573660570


  1. ^ "Hurston/Wright Foundation | Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers Recipients". www.hurstonwright.org. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  2. ^ "FC2". www.fc2.org. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  3. ^ "American Book Awards | Before Columbus Foundation". www.beforecolumbusfoundation.com. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  4. ^ "YEAR OF THE RAT Named American Book Award Winner". The University of Alabama Press Blog. 2017-08-09. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  5. ^ YEAR OF THE RAT by Marc Anthony Richardson | Kirkus Reviews.
  6. ^ Richardson, Marc Anthony (2021). Messiahs. FC2, University of Alabama Press. ISBN 978-1-57366-190-4.
  7. ^ "Messiahs | Creative Writing Program". creative.writing.upenn.edu. Retrieved 2021-04-09.
  8. ^ Madera, John (2022-03-28). "Announcing the Finalists for the 2021 Big Other Book Award for Fiction!". BIG OTHER. Retrieved 2022-06-01.
  9. ^ "Art Omi: Writers 2023 — Spring – Art Omi". Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  10. ^ "Faculty". writing.upenn.edu. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  11. ^ "The Serpent Will Eat Whatever is in the Belly of the Beast". The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  12. ^ "The Serpent Will Eat Whatever is in the Belly of the Beast". Creative Capital. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  13. ^ "Two Penn English faculty receive Creative Capital Award for writing projects". Penn Today. 10 December 2020. Retrieved 2020-12-11.
  14. ^ "News | Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America | Brown University". www.brown.edu. Retrieved 2023-11-24.

External links[edit]