Vanessa Veselka

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Vanessa Veselka
Born (1969-03-14) March 14, 1969 (age 54)
Alma materReed College
Notable worksZazen, The Great Offshore Grounds

Vanessa Veselka (born March 14, 1969) is an American writer best known for her 2020 novel The Great Offshore Grounds, which won the Oregon Book Award[1] and was longlisted for the U.S. National Book Award.[2] She is also known for her first novel, Zazen.[3]

Her November 2012 GQ piece entitled "The Truck-Stop Killer" was included under the title "Highway of Lost Girls" in the 2013 edition of Best American Essays.[4]


Her nonfiction has dealt with issues of women, violence and the road ("Green Screen," The Truck Stop Killer") as well as rape, mental health ("The Collapsible Woman") and unionization ("the Wake of Protest")("These Memory Care Workers Went on Strike to Save Lives). Her fiction frequently involves "Buddhist concerns"[5] and geological themes.[6]

Veselka's first novel Zazen was serialized online by Arthur Magazine,[7] then published by Richard Nash's imprint Red Lemonade.[8] The book grew out of a short story published by Tin House in 2010,[9] and was nominated for a Ken Kesey Award for Fiction[10] and awarded the $25,000 PEN/Bingham award "for a debut work of fiction that represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise."[11] Zazen was rereleased by Knopf in 2021.[12]

Her second novel, The Great Offshore Grounds[13] was released on August 25, 2020, from Knopf.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Veselka's bio says she has been "a teenage runaway, a sex-worker, a union organizer, and a student of paleontology."[15] In the 1990s she played in the bands Bell and The Pinkos and ran a record label.[16] She graduated from Reed College[17] and lives in Portland, Oregon.[18] She is the daughter of broadcaster Linda Ellerbee.[19]


  • Veselka, Vanessa (2011). Zazen. Red Lemonade. ISBN 978-1-935869-05-4.
  • Veselka, Vanessa (2020). The Great Offshore Grounds. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-525-65807-8.


  1. ^ "Here are the winners of the 2021 Oregon Book Awards". The Oregonian. May 3, 2021. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  2. ^ "Vanessa Veselka, Longlist 2020 National Book Awards". Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  3. ^ "WONDERFUL NEWS: Vanessa Veselka's ZAZEN wins her a major prize from PEN". Arthur Magazine. August 28, 2012. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  4. ^ "Cheryl Strayed, Brian Doyle, Vanessa Veselka and Kevin Sampsell". Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  5. ^ Mowe, Sam. "An interview with Vanessa Veselka". Tricycle. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  6. ^ Mowe, Sam (September 20, 2011). "The Transience of Identity: The Rumpus Interview with Vanessa Veselka". The Rumpus. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  7. ^ "Starting Monday, Oct. 26, Arthur serializes ZAZEN, a novel by Vanessa Veselka". October 23, 2009. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  8. ^ "Zazen. Red Lemonade". Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  9. ^ Cleland, Lance. "From the Vault: Vanessa Veselka". Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  10. ^ Heacock, Kait. "Fiction is a Radical and Private Freedom: Fearless Female Writers". Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  11. ^ Baker, Jeff. "Portland Writer Vanessa Veselka Wins $25,000 Pen/Robert Bingham Prize". Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  12. ^ Rubin, Jay. "Portland author's award winning novel rereleased". Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  13. ^ "The Great Offshore Grounds by Vanessa Veselka: 9781984899576 | Books".
  14. ^ "Cover Reveal: THE GREAT OFFSHORE GROUNDS by Vanessa Veselka". March 9, 2020.
  15. ^ Kerr, Euan. "Vanessa Veselka's Strange Route to Literary Stardom". Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  16. ^ " "Vanessa Veselka. These Streets". January 22, 2013. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  17. ^ Barton, Randall. "Reed Magazine: Road Warrior". Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  18. ^ Miller, Dave. "Vanessa Veselka's "Zazen"". Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  19. ^ "Vanessa Veselka, "The Great Offshore Grounds," "Zazen," 2021".

External links and references[edit]