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Place of Birth
Amherst College, 2001; French and English majors
University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006; MFA in Fiction
Why did you choose to come to Amherst?
I visited the campus, and it clicked for me the way no other school did. I loved Amherst's size and the access to the other Five Colleges.
Favorite (most memorable or most influential) class at Amherst:
Professor Hewett's French Autobiography class changed the way I thought about modern literature and introduced me to Marguerite Duras's The Lover, which is still one of my favorite books.
Favorite (most memorable or most influential) professor:
Professor Parker in the English Department was my thesis advisor, and remains a kind and thoughtful friend.
I love communities, pandemics, medical oddities, 19th century short-story writers and a million other things.
Awards and Prizes
PEN/O. Henry Prize 2012; Best American Short Stories 2010 and 2007; Best New American Voices 2008; Pushcart Prize 2008, Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers 2008
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Tips for aspiring writers?
Most people have a spark of talent; most published writers also have a great deal of patience, resilience and persistence. If you sit down every day to work, over the course of a few years, you will eventually have a book. It's not easy, but a writer can take comfort in the fact that it's mostly a war of accumulation.
Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an author.
I was a writer for ten years before I was ever an author. I wrote bad poetry in high school, bad stories in college, and bad novels after graduating from college. Three years after graduation, I went back to graduate school to get an MFA in fiction, I slowly learned how to write decent stories and novels and publish them, though my poetry is still very bad. I'm grateful for every one of those failed attempts, because they all taught me something.