Victor LaValle

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Victor LaValle
Portrait photoshoot at Worldcon 75, Helsinki, before the Hugo Awards – Victor LaValle.jpg
Born (1972-02-03) February 3, 1972 (age 50)
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Alma materCornell University (B.A.)
Columbia University (M.F.A.)
GenreSpeculative fiction
Notable works
Notable awards
SpouseEmily Raboteau

Victor LaValle (born February 3, 1972) is an American author. He is the author of a short-story collection, Slapboxing with Jesus, and four novels, The Ecstatic, Big Machine, The Devil in Silver, and The Changeling. His fantasy-horror novella The Ballad of Black Tom won the 2016 Shirley Jackson Award for best novella.[1] LaValle writes fiction primarily, though he has also written essays and book reviews for GQ, Essence Magazine, The Fader, and The Washington Post, among other publications.

Early life[edit]

Victor LaValle was born on February 3, 1972, and raised in the Flushing and Rosedale neighborhoods of Queens, New York by a single mother who had emigrated from Uganda in her twenties. He attended Woodmere Academy and went on to earn a degree in English from Cornell University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Columbia University.[citation needed]

Literary career[edit]

Slapboxing with Jesus was published in 1999 by Vintage Books. The eleven interconnected stories deal mostly with the lives of young black and Latino men living in New York in the 1970s and 1980s. The collection went on to receive wide critical praise. It won the author a PEN Open Book Award[2] and the Key to Jamaica, Queens.[3]

The Ecstatic was published in 2002 by Crown Publishing Group. The novel continues the story of Anthony James, a character from LaValle's collection of stories. Anthony is a morbidly obese college dropout who may also be experiencing the first signs of schizophrenia. The novel follows the exploits of his family, who are trying their best to save Anthony, but who might be in need of a little saving themselves. The subject matter is dark, and even shocking, but a gallows humor runs throughout. This book received even wider critical acclaim, earning comparisons to writers such as Ken Kesey, Chester Himes, and John Kennedy Toole. In 2003 the novel was a finalist for both the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award.[citation needed] It became a favorite novel for rapper Mos Def, who later titled his 2009 studio album after it.[4]

Big Machine was published in 2009 by Spiegel & Grau. The novel tells the story of Ricky Rice, an ex-junkie survivor of a suicide cult whose life is changed when a mysterious letter arrives summoning him to a remote compound in Vermont. The novel was widely praised upon its release, making many national top ten lists. It also won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel in 2009, as well as the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and an American Book Award in 2010.

The Devil in Silver, published by Spiegel & Grau in August 21, 2012, is the story of Pepper, a sane man sent for observation to a mental hospital. There he encounters a monster roaming the nighttime halls. He teams up with some of the other inmates to fight the mental confusion of the drugs he is required to take, the staff, and the monster.

The Ballad of Black Tom, a novella, was published by Tor Books on February 16, 2016. It is a retelling of the H. P. Lovecraft story "The Horror at Red Hook" from the point of view of a young black man living in Harlem with a reference to the Nation of Gods and Earths.[5]

The Changeling was published in 2017 by Spiegel & Grau and received critical acclaim. It was selected as one of 2017's ten best books by New York Public Library[6] and won a 2018 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel,[7] the 2018 Locus Award for Horror Novel,[8][9] and the 2018 British Fantasy Award for Horror Novel.[10]

Destroyer, a graphic novel published in 2017 by Boom! Studios, is a modern retelling of Frankenstein. The story follows an African-American descendant of Dr. Frankenstein, her only son who was killed in a police encounter, and the monster from the original novel who has long given up on peace.[11]

Personal life[edit]

LaValle is an associate professor at the Columbia University School of the Arts. He lives in New York with his wife, novelist Emily Raboteau, son and daughter.[12]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Literature awards[edit]



Nominee Society Award Category Result Ref
2002 Slapboxing with Jesus PEN America PEN/Open Book Award Won (Co-winners) [2]
2003 The Ecstatic PEN/Faulkner Foundation PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist [13][14]
Hurston/Wright Foundation Hurston-Wright Legacy Award Fiction Finalist [15]
2010 Big Machine Before Columbus Foundation (administration) American Book Awards Won (Co-winners) [16]
Baton Rouge Area Foundation (underwriters) Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence Won [17]
Readercon panel Shirley Jackson Award Novel Won [18]
2013 The Devil in Silver Readercon panel Shirley Jackson Award Novel Nominated [18]
2017 The Ballad of Black Tom World Science Fiction Convention Hugo Awards Hugo—Novella Nominated [18][19]
SF&F Writers of America Nebula Awards Nebula—Novella Nominated [18][20]
World Fantasy Con World Fantasy Award WFA—Novella Nominated [18]
British Fantasy Society British Fantasy Award BFA—Novella Won [18]
Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award BSA—Long Fiction Nominated [18]
Readercon panel Shirley Jackson Award Novella Won [18]
Center for the Study of Science Fiction Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award Finalist [18]
Locus Magazine members Locus Award Locus—Novella 3rd [18]
The Changeling Dragon Con (Presented) Dragon Award Horror Novel Nominated [18]
2018 World Fantasy Con World Fantasy Award WFA—Novel Won (tie) [18]
British Fantasy Society British Fantasy Award August Derleth (Best Horror Novel) Won [18]
Readercon panel Shirley Jackson Award Novel Nominated [18]
Locus Magazine members Locus Award Locus—Horror Novel Won (1st) [18]
Mythopoeic Society Mythopoeic Awards Adult Novel Nominated [18]
2019 Victor LaValle's Destroyer Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award BSA—Graphic Novel Won [18]
2020 A People's Future of the United States Locus Magazine members Locus Award Locus—Anthology 3rd [18]
FIYAH Literary Magazine Ignyte Awards Anthology/Collection Nominated [18]
2020 "Up from Slavery" Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award BSA—Short Fiction Won [18]


Best of lists by magazines, editorials[edit]



  • —— (1999). Slapboxing with Jesus: Stories. Vintage. ISBN 978-0375705908.
  • —— (2002). The Ecstatic. Crown. ISBN 978-0609610145.
  • —— (2009). Big Machine. Spiegel & Grau. ISBN 978-0385527989.
  • —— (2012). The Devil in Silver. Spiegel & Grau. ISBN 978-1400069866.
  • —— (2012). Lucretia and the Kroons (ebook ed.). Spiegel & Grau. pp. 1–104. ISBN 978-0812984378.
  • —— (2016). The Ballad of Black Tom. Tor. ISBN 978-0765387868.
  • —— (2017). The Changeling. Spiegel & Grau. ISBN 978-0812995947.
  • As Editor, with John Joseph Adams: A People's Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers. Random House Group. 2019. ISBN 978-0525508816.




  1. ^ 2016 Shirley Jackson Awards, retrieved October 7, 2017
  2. ^ a b "PEN Open Book Award Winners". PEN America. April 29, 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  3. ^ Hendrick, Daniel (July 27, 2000). "Jamaica JAMS Kicks Off With Reception Honoring Leaders". Queens Chronicle. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  4. ^ Samuel, Steven (2009). "Mos Def Reveals New Album Details, Bringing Back Def Poetry". SOHH. Archived from the original on August 4, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  5. ^ LaValle, Victor (February 16, 2016). "What Lovecraft Taught Me About Harlem". Fantastic Stories of the Imagination. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  6. ^ Lobash, Lynn (December 6, 2017). "NYPL's 10 Best Books of 2017". New York Public Library. Retrieved December 10, 2017.
  7. ^ "2018 World Fantasy Awards".
  8. ^ "2018 Locus Awards Winners". Locus Magazine. June 23, 2018. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  9. ^ Schaub, Michael (June 26, 2018). "Locus Award winners include N.K. Jemisin, Victor LaValle and John Scalzi". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  10. ^ "British Fantasy Awards 2018 – winners". The British Fantasy Society. October 22, 2018. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  11. ^ Carroll, Tobias (May 25, 2017). "Victor LaValle Resurrects Frankenstein in Socially Conscious New Comic, Destroyer". Paste Magazine. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  12. ^ Lavalle, Victor (October 2013). "Here's To The Weird". Specter Magazine (Interview). Interviewed by Mensah Demary. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  13. ^ "The Ecstatic by Victor LaValle". Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  14. ^ Weeks, Linton (April 9, 2003). "Sabina Murray's Stories Win PEN/Faulkner Prize". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved June 6, 2022.
  15. ^ "Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominee | Book awards | LibraryThing". Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  16. ^ "ABA: The American Book Awards / Before Columbus Foundation". March 13, 2013. Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved August 4, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  17. ^ Crowder, Courtney. "LaValle's 'Big Machine' wins Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence" Archived September 26, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, The Chicago Tribune, Chicago, November 17, 2010.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "sfadb : Victor LaValle Awards". Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  19. ^ "2017 Hugo Awards". World Science Fiction Society. December 31, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  20. ^ "SFWA Announces 2016 Nebula, Norton, and Bradbury Award Nominees! - The Nebula Awards". The Nebula Awards. February 20, 2017. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  21. ^ "Victor LaValle". Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  22. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Victor LaValle". Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  23. ^ "Programs - Letterenfonds". Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  24. ^ Noble, Barnes &. "Chicago Tribune's Favorite Fiction of 2009, Chicago Tribune's Favorite Books of 2009, Books". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  25. ^ Nichols, John (December 22, 2009). "MVPs of 2009". The Nation.
  26. ^ "Best Books of 2009". Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  27. ^ "Holiday Guide 2009: Best Books - The Washington Post". Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  28. ^ Noble, Barnes &. "Washington Post Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2009, Washington Post Best Books of 2009, Books". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  29. ^ "100 Notable Books of 2012". The New York Times. November 27, 2012. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  30. ^ "Best Books of 2012 | Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly". Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  31. ^ "50 notable works of fiction". Washington Post. November 15, 2012.
  32. ^ "100 Notable Books of 2017". The New York Times. November 22, 2017. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 14, 2022.

External links[edit]


Free reading

Novel reviews

LaValle written reviews and interviews