ZZ Packer

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ZZ Packer
ZZ Packer at the 2009 Texas Book Festival.
ZZ Packer at the 2009 Texas Book Festival.
BornZuwena Packer
(1973-01-12) January 12, 1973 (age 51)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Zuwena "ZZ" Packer (born January 12, 1973) is an American writer, primarily of works of short fiction.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Packer grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and Louisville, Kentucky. "ZZ" was a childhood nickname; her given name is Zuwena.[citation needed] Her writing was published in the magazine Seventeen at the age of 19.[citation needed] Packer is a 1990 graduate of Seneca High School in Louisville, Kentucky.[citation needed]

Packer attended Yale University, receiving her BA in 1994. Her graduate work included an MA at Johns Hopkins University in 1995 and an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop of the University of Iowa in 1999, where she was mentored by James Alan McPherson.[citation needed]


Her work was first published in the Debut Fiction issue of The New Yorker in 2000. Her short story in the issue became the title story in her collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. As Publishers Weekly put it, "this debut short story collection is getting the highest of accolades from the New York Times, Harper's, the New Yorker and most every other branch of the literary criticism tree."[1]

"ZZ Packer’s Drinking Coffee Elsewhere is taught in creative writing courses nationwide and with good reason. This short story collection is brimming with characters who are striving to find themselves, to understand themselves, and to survive", commented novelist Colson Whitehead.[2]

Packer is currently[when?][needs update] working on a novel set during Reconstruction in the aftermath of the Civil War: "The subject is the Buffalo Soldiers; blacks who left the South, Louisiana in this case, and traveled to the West. You don't hear much about blacks in the West and I became really fascinated by them. I thought to justify my interest I had better write about them."[3] A short excerpt from the novel was published in The New Yorker magazine's "20 under 40" issue.[4] She has been regularly contributing to The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker.



Year Title
2003 Drinking Coffee Elsewhere


Year Title
2000 Best American Short Stories 2000[5]
2003 Best American Short Stories 2003[6]
2008 New Stories from the South: The Year's Best[7]
2015 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories[8]

Other works[edit]

Year Title Publication
1999 Brownies Harper's Magazine[9]
2000 Drinking Coffee Elsewhere The New Yorker[10]
2002 The Ant of the Self The New Yorker[11]
2002 Every Tongue Shall Confess Ploughshares[12]
2002 The Stranger The Washington Post Magazine[13]
2004 Derby Pie The New York Times Magazine[14]
2004 An Interview with John Kerry The Believer Magazine[15]
2004 I Was Black, and I Told Her O, The Oprah Magazine[16]
2004 Losing My Religion Salon[17]
2005 'Dr. King's Refrigerator': Thinking Outside the Icebox The New York Times Magazine[18]
2005 Sorry, Not Buying The American Prospect[19]
2007 Buffalo Soldiers Granta[20]
2007 Pita Delicious The Washington Post Magazine[21]
2007 Gideon The Guardian[22]
2007 The Finishing Party: ZZ Packer's Writing Group O, The Oprah Magazine[23]
2008 I want Obama to be daily proof that race is no barrier The Guardian
2008 Saved to ‘Drafts’ Granta[24]
2008 Working the Reunion The New York Times Magazine[25]
2009 No Polenta, No Cry The New York Times Magazine[26]
2009 Remembering Updike: ZZ Packer The New Yorker[27]
2009 A Finished Revolution? The Oxford American[28]
2009 Confessions of a Shopaholic's Wife Glamour[29]
2010 Dayward The New Yorker[30]
2011 Ferraro's Barack Problem HuffPost[31]
2012 Keeping it Weird in Austin, Texas Smithsonian[32]
2013 It's Beyoncé's World and We're Just Living In It Newsweek[33]
2017 Trump Talk: Your Translation Guide The New Yorker[34]
2017 What to Expect When You're Expecting Fascism The New Yorker[35]
2018 News of an ‘Outrage’ Used to Mean Something Very, Very Different The New York Times Magazine[36]
2018 When Is ‘Civility’ a Duty, and When Is It a Trap? The New York Times Magazine[37]
2019 July 30, 1866 The New York Times Magazine[38]
2019 Truth And Fiction Port Magazine[39]
2020 Preacher of the New Antiracist Gospel GQ[40]
2020 Sarah Cooper Doesn't Mimic Trump. She Exposes Him. The New York Times Magazine[41]
2020 The Empty Facts of the Breonna Taylor Decision The New Yorker[42]


Year Title Notes
1997 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award Winner
1999 Whiting Award[43] Winner
1999 Bellingham Review Award Winner
2003 Commonwealth Club of California Award[44] Winner
2004 PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
2004 PEN/Hemingway Award Finalist
2004 Alex Award[45] Winner

Other honors[edit]

Year Title
2006 5 under 35 honoree by the National Book Foundation[46]
2007 America's Best Young Novelists by Granta[47]
2007 Smithsonian Magazine's Young Innovators[48]
2010 The New Yorker magazine's "20 under 40" luminary fiction writers.[49]


Year Title
2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Tulane University English Department Creative Writing Program[50]
2008 Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at San Jose State University.[51]
2008 Creative Writing Faculty at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin[52]
2009 Writer-in-Residence at Vassar College[53]
2010 Visiting Professor of Creative Writing in the MFA Program of Creative Writing at Texas State University
2011 Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa[54]
2012 Visiting Assistant Professor in English and Creative Writing at University of Houston[55]
2013 Creative Writing Assistant Professor at SFSU[56]
2015 Creative Writing Visiting Faculty at MIT[57]
2020 Creative Writing Faculty at Harvard University
2020 Creative Writing MFA Program at CUNY's Hunter College[58]
2023 Assistant Professor in the English Department at Vanderbilt University


Year Title
1999 Stegner Fellowship[59]
2002 MacDowell Fellowship[60]
2005 National Endowment for the Arts Grant
2005 Guggenheim Fellowship
2005 Montalvo Arts Center Lucas Artists Fellowship[61]
2007 San Francisco Writers' Grotto Fellowship[62]
2010 Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University[63]
2010 MacDowell Fellowship[60]
2013 Dobie Paisano Fellowship[64]
2014 Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard University[65]
2016 MacDowell Fellowship[60]
2018 W. E. B. Du Bois Institute Fellowship at Harvard University[66]
2018 Montalvo Arts Center Lucas Artists Fellowship[61]
2019 Montalvo Arts Center Lucas Artists Fellowship[61]
2020 Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs Fellowship at Brown University.[67]


  1. ^ "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere", Barnes & Noble.
  2. ^ "10 Books Recommended by Pulitzer Prize Winners". www.bookbub.com.
  3. ^ Daniel Robert Epstein, "ZZ Packer author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere" (interview), Suicide Girls, July 19, 2004.
  4. ^ ZZ Packer, "Dayward", The New Yorker, June 14, 2010.
  5. ^ The Best American Short Stories 2000
  6. ^ Best American Short Stories 2003
  7. ^ David Austin Gura, "ZZ Packer's edition of Southern stories straddles old and new Dixie", Indy Week. August 20, 2008.
  8. ^ "Review: '100 Years of Best American Short Stories' is vital yet flawed for loading the canon". Los Angeles Times. 2015-10-09. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  9. ^ Packer, Z. Z. (1999-11-01). "[Fiction] Brownies, By ZZ Packer". Harper's Magazine. November 1999. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  10. ^ Packer, Z. Z. "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  11. ^ Packer, Z. Z. "The Ant of the Self". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  12. ^ "Fall 2002 | Ploughshares". www.pshares.org. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  13. ^ Packer, Z. Z. (2002-07-14). "The Stranger". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  14. ^ "Derby Pie (Published 2004)". www.nytimes.com. 2004-10-17. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  15. ^ "An Interview with John Kerry". Believer Magazine. 2004-10-01. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  16. ^ "O Magazine".
  17. ^ "Losing my religion". Salon. 2004-11-21. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  18. ^ "'Dr. King's Refrigerator': Thinking Outside the Icebox (Published 2005)". www.nytimes.com. 2005-03-06. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  19. ^ Packer, Z. Z. (2005-11-20). "Sorry, Not Buying". The American Prospect. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  20. ^ "Buffalo Soldiers". Granta. 2007-04-16. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  21. ^ "Washington post". The Washington Post.
  22. ^ Packer, Z. Z. (2007-10-06). "Short story: Gideon by ZZ Packer". The Guardian. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  23. ^ "O Magazine".
  24. ^ "Saved to 'Drafts'". Granta. 2008-11-04. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  25. ^ "Working the Reunion (Published 2008)". www.nytimes.com. 2008-06-01. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  26. ^ "No Polenta, No Cry (Published 2009)". www.nytimes.com. 2009-10-08. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  27. ^ Packer, Z. Z. "Remembering Updike: ZZ Packer". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  28. ^ "Issue 64, Spring 2009". www.oxfordamerican.org. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  29. ^ "Real Women's Money Dramas". Glamour. July 2009. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  30. ^ Packer, Z. Z. "Dayward". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  31. ^ Andrew Foster Altschul (2008-03-15). "ZZ Packer Takes on Geraldine Ferraro". HuffPost. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  32. ^ "Keeping it Weird in Austin, Texas". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  33. ^ Packer, ZZ (2013-02-15). "It's Beyoncé's World and We're Just Living In It". Newsweek. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  34. ^ Packer, Z. Z. "Trump Talk: Your Translation Guide". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  35. ^ Packer, Z. Z. "What to Expect When You're Expecting Fascism". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  36. ^ "News of an 'Outrage' Used to Mean Something Very, Very Different (Published 2018)". www.nytimes.com. 2018-05-23. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  37. ^ "When Is 'Civility' a Duty, and When Is It a Trap? (Published 2018)". www.nytimes.com. 2018-11-28. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  38. ^ Ward, Jesmyn; Jenkins, Barry; Dove, Rita (2019-08-14). "A New Literary Timeline of African-American History (Published 2019)". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  39. ^ "Port Magazine, Truth and Fiction". 8 May 2019.
  40. ^ Packer, Z. Z. (20 August 2020). "What Happens to a Professor When His Theory of Anti-Racism Goes Mainstream?". GQ. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  41. ^ "Sarah Cooper Doesn't Mimic Trump. She Exposes Him". www.nytimes.com. 2020-06-25. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  42. ^ Packer, Z. Z. "The Empty Facts of the Breonna Taylor Decision". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  43. ^ "ZZ Packer". www.whiting.org. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  44. ^ "Commonwealth Club awards" (PDF).
  45. ^ "2004 Alex Awards". Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). 2007-07-30. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  46. ^ "5 Under 35 Archives". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  47. ^ http://www.granta.com/Magazine/97October 2007
  48. ^ Tessa Decarlo, "Comedienne of Manners", Smithsonian magazine, October 2007.
  49. ^ Bosman, Julie (2010-06-02). "20 Young Writers Earn the Envy of Many Others". The New York Times.
  50. ^ "Francine Prose Debuts New Story During Tulane Visit", Creative Writing at Tulane, February 25, 2009.
  51. ^ "Visiting Writers", San Jose State University.
  52. ^ "ZZ Packer", University of Texas, Austin
  53. ^ "- English Department - Vassar College". english.vassar.edu.
  54. ^ "People | Iowa Writers' Workshop | College of Liberal Arts & Sciences | The University of Iowa". writersworkshop.uiowa.edu.
  55. ^ "New non-tenure track faculty join CLASS". www.uh.edu. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  56. ^ "SFSU" (PDF).
  57. ^ "MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing | "fiction"".
  58. ^ "Ten New Faculty Appointments Join Hunter | Hunter College". hunter.cuny.edu. 15 September 2020. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  59. ^ "Former Stegner Fellows | Creative Writing Program". creativewriting.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  60. ^ a b c "ZZ Packer - Artist". MacDowell. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  61. ^ a b c "Montalvo Arts Center | ZZ Packer". montalvoarts.org. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  62. ^ "News" Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine, Grotto.
  63. ^ ZZ Packer - 2010 Hodder Fellow, Lewis Center, Princeton.
  64. ^ "Previous Fellows | Dobie Paisano Fellowship | The University of Texas at Austin". dobiepaisano.utexas.edu. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  65. ^ "ZZ Packer". Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. April 22, 2014.
  66. ^ "Announcing the 2018-2019 Fellows". hutchinscenter.fas.harvard.edu.
  67. ^ "Senior Fellows | Watson Institute". Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

External links[edit]