Tayari Jones

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Tayari Jones
Tayari Jones in 2010
Tayari Jones in 2010
Born (1970-11-30) November 30, 1970 (age 47)
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Occupation Novelist, professor
Genre American literature
Notable works Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow

Tayari Jones (born November 30, 1970 in Atlanta, Georgia) is an American author and winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. She was educated at Spelman College, the University of Iowa and Arizona State University. She is the older sister of sportswriter and frequent Around the Horn panelist Bomani Jones.

Education and career[edit]

She started writing seriously at Spelman College, where she studied with Pearl Cleage, who published her first story, "Eugenics", in Catalyst magazine. Jones went on to University of Iowa, where she worked toward a Ph.D. in English, but she left after completing her master's degree. She also studied at The University of Georgia, where she worked with Kevin Young and Judith Ortiz Cofer. She left UGA to enroll in the MFA program at Arizona State University where she worked with Ron Carlson and Jewell Parker Rhodes.

Jones has taught creative writing at The University of Illinois and also at George Washington University, where she served as the Jenny McKean Moore Writer in Washington. She is now a member of the MFA faculty at the Newark Campus of Rutgers University.


Jones with Lynne Tillman at the 2011 Brooklyn Book Festival.

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.[1] Aletha Spann of 30Nineteen Productions has purchased the film option for Leaving Atlanta.[2]

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.[3][4] It was awarded the Lillian Smith Book Award in 2005.[5][6]

Silver Sparrow, Jones's third novel, was published by Algonquin Books in 2011. It was an American Booksellers Association number 1 "Indie Next" pick.[7]

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.[8][9][10] 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.[11]


  • 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


External links[edit]


  1. ^ "2003 Hurston/Wright LEGACY Award™ Winners". Archived from the original on April 14, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  2. ^ Judson, Charles (December 4, 2010). "Book on Atlanta Child Murders to Become a Short Film". CinemATL. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  3. ^ Straight, Susan (May 2005). "A REVIEW OF THE UNTELLING BY TAYARI JONES". The Believer. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  4. ^ Staff (February 28, 2005). "THE UNTELLING. Tayari Jones, Author". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  5. ^ Vasconcelos, Elizabete (2007-03-17). "Tayari Jones (b. 1970)". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  6. ^ "2005 Winners", Lillian Smith Book Awards, University of Georgia Libraries.
  7. ^ Cowles, Libby (June 2011). "Silver Sparrow: A Novel, by Tayari Jones". American Booksellers Association. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  8. ^ "Oprah Winfrey reveals her next book club pick: 'An American Marriage' by Tayari Jones". USA TODAY. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  9. ^ "Oprah's New Book Club Pick: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones". Oprah.com. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  10. ^ Italie, Hillel, "Winfrey picks novel 'An American Marriage' for book club", ABC News, February 6, 2018.
  11. ^ "AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Tayari Jones". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved February 6, 2018.