Place of Birth:
Hunter College High School (Graduated 1995), Amherst College (1995-1999, B.A. in English & Sociology, Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude), Iowa Writers' Workshop (2001-2003, MFA in Fiction)
Why did you choose to come to Amherst?
The balance of academic rigor and freedom
Most memorable or most influential class at Amherst:
Reading, Writing, and Teaching with Rhonda Cobham-Sander and Barry O'Connell
Most memorable or most influential professor:
Rhonda Cobham-Sander and Barry O'Connell
Anything that illuminates my characters' personal histories, from Alzheimer's disease to bulimia, from the Cultural Revolution to the Iraq War.
Awards and Prizes
A THREAD OF SKY: New York Times Editors' Choice, CALA Best Book, Late Night Library's "Debut-litzer" Prize
GIRL IN GLASS: Washington Post Book of the Month (August 2015), Library Journal starred review
Tips for aspiring writers?
Let fear be your guide. The stuff that scares you, those shadowy recesses of your mind, those moments you want to flee from your desk -- that's the heart of your story. Only you can tell that story.
Tell us a bit about how you came to write this book:
For as long as I can remember, writing has been core to my identity. But after my daughter's birth, I was too traumatized to write a word. I certainly couldn't imagine ever telling the story of her arrival in the world. Then a CEO singled out my daughter as a financial burden and reduced her life to a price tag. Amid a national firestorm, the only way I knew to fight back was to write.
After I spoke out, I received an outpouring of messages from people around the world who embraced my daughter's story and shared beautiful, wrenching stories of their own. They inspired me to write GIRL IN GLASS. It's the story of a child whose life was suspended between birth and death, hope and fear, nature and science--and how I learned to be her mother. It's full of dark, terrifying questions, details that once seemed unspeakable. But it's also a story of love and resilience and the power of making our voices heard. Ultimately, that's why we write: To say, You are not alone.
Deanna Fei is the author of the memoir GIRL IN GLASS (Bloomsbury), hailed as "extraordinarily beautiful" by NPR and "an impassioned, important book" by the Washington Post. GIRL IN GLASS was recently featured on PBS NewsHour, Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC, and NPR's All Things Considered. Fei has also been profiled in the Guardian, Business Insider, and Fortune.
In 2014, Fei's essay, "My Baby and AOL's Bottom Line," went viral worldwide and sparked national conversations about medical privacy, corporate accounting, employer-sponsored health care, and the worth of human life. She appeared on NBC's the Today show, the CBS Evening News, CNN's Erin Burnett Show, MSNBC's News Nation, and NPR's Here and Now to discuss her decision to speak about her "distressed baby."
Fei is also the author of the award-winning novel A Thread of Sky (Penguin, 2010). She was born in Flushing, New York, and graduated from Amherst College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She has received a Fulbright Grant and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, TIME, and Slate, among other publications. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.