Tayari Jones

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Tayari Jones
Born (1970-11-30) November 30, 1970 (age 48)
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Notable worksLeaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, An American Marriage

Tayari Jones (born November 30, 1970 in Atlanta, Georgia) is the author of four novels, most recently An American Marriage, which was a 2018 Oprah's Book Club Selection,[1] and won the 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction.[2] She is a graduate of Spelman College, the University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is currently[3] a member of the English faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences at Emory University, and recently returned to her hometown after a decade in New York City.


Her first novel, Leaving Atlanta, is a three-voiced coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the Atlanta Child Murders of 1979-81. This novel, which was written while she was a graduate student at Arizona State University, is based on the experience as a child in Atlanta during that period. It won the 2003 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction.[4] Aletha Spann of 30Nineteen Productions has purchased the film option for Leaving Atlanta.[5]

The Untelling is also set in Atlanta. Described in Publishers Weekly as Jones's "deep-felt second novel", the book examines how the protagonist comes to terms with the loss of key members of her family as a child before having to redefine herself all over again in her mid-twenties.[6][7] It was awarded the Lillian Smith Book Award in 2005.[8][9]

Silver Sparrow, Jones's third novel, was published by Algonquin Books in 2011. It was an American Booksellers Association number 1 "Indie Next" pick.[10]

An American Marriage, her latest novel, was published on February 6, 2018 by Algonquin. On the same day, Oprah Winfrey announced that An American Marriage would be a pick of Oprah's Book Club.[11][12][13] An American Marriage is about an African-American couple whose lives are shaken when the husband is arrested for a crime he did not commit.[14] Winfrey has also announced[15] that she is producing a film adaptation of the book. President Barack Obama included[16] An American Marriage on his summer 2018 reading list.


  • Leaving Atlanta, Warner Books, 2002, ISBN 9780446528306
  • The Untelling, Warner Books, 2005, ISBN 978-0446532464
  • Silver Sparrow, Algonquin Books, 2011, ISBN 978-1565129900
  • An American Marriage, Algonquin Books, 2018, ISBN 978-1616208776, OCLC 1090206538

Honors and awards[edit]

Jones is a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction[17], Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts[18] from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, United States Artist Fellowship[19], National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship[20], and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship[21]. Her novel, Silver Sparrow, was added to the NEA Big Read Library[22] of classics in 2016. She is also a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers[23].

In February of 2018, Oprah Winfrey announced[24] that her latest book club pick was Jones’ novel, An American Marriage. Winfrey said[25], “It's one of those books I could not put down. And as soon as I did, I called up the author, and said, 'I've got to talk to you about this story.'"

On June 5th, an American Marriage was announced as the winner of the 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction[26]


  1. ^ "Oprah's New Book Club: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones". Oprah.com. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  2. ^ Flood, Alison (June 5, 2019), "Women's prize for fiction goes to 'utterly moving' Tayari Jones novel", The Guardian.
  3. ^ "Atlanta native, author Tayari Jones joins faculty of Emory University". ajc. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  4. ^ "2003 Hurston/Wright LEGACY Award™ Winners". Archived from the original on April 14, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  5. ^ Judson, Charles (December 4, 2010). "Book on Atlanta Child Murders to Become a Short Film". CinemATL. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  6. ^ Straight, Susan (May 2005). "A REVIEW OF THE UNTELLING BY TAYARI JONES". The Believer. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  7. ^ Staff (February 28, 2005). "THE UNTELLING. Tayari Jones, Author". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  8. ^ Vasconcelos, Elizabete (2007-03-17). "Tayari Jones (b. 1970)". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  9. ^ "2005 Winners", Lillian Smith Book Awards, University of Georgia Libraries.
  10. ^ Cowles, Libby (June 2011). "Silver Sparrow: A Novel, by Tayari Jones". American Booksellers Association. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  11. ^ "Oprah Winfrey reveals her next book club pick: 'An American Marriage' by Tayari Jones". USA TODAY. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  12. ^ "Oprah's New Book Club Pick: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones". Oprah.com. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  13. ^ Italie, Hillel, "Winfrey picks novel 'An American Marriage' for book club", ABC News, February 6, 2018.
  14. ^ "AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Tayari Jones". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  15. ^ Arreola, Cristina. "Oprah Made This Novel Her Book Club Selection — & Now She's Making It A Movie". Bustle. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  16. ^ https://www.facebook.com/roncharles. "Perspective | Barack Obama's summer reading list is everything we need right now". Washington Post. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  17. ^ "Hurston/Wright Foundation | Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers Recipients". www.hurstonwright.org. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  18. ^ "Tayari Jones To Receive Lifetime Achievement In The Fine Arts Award". www.newark.rutgers.edu. Rutgers University - Newark. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  19. ^ "Tayari Jones". United States Artists. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  20. ^ "Tayari Jones". NEA. May 30, 2018. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  21. ^ "Tayari Jones". Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. 2012-03-16. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  22. ^ "Silver Sparrow". NEA. 2017-06-06. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  23. ^ "fellowship | Jones, Tayari". Fellowship of Southern Writers. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  24. ^ Schaub, Michael. "Oprah's new book club pick is Tayari Jones' 'An American Marriage'". latimes.com. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  25. ^ Schaub, Michael. "Oprah's new book club pick is Tayari Jones' 'An American Marriage'". latimes.com. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  26. ^ https://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/2019-prize

External links[edit]