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kiese laymon
A recipient of the Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard, Laymon is a prolific writer with ongoing projects, including the books "Good God" and "City Summer, Country Summer," along with various film and television endeavors.
2024 fitzgerald special guest
kiese laymon

Kiese Laymon is a distinguished Black southern writer hailing from Jackson, Mississippi, who currently is the Libbie Sheam Moody Professor of English and Creative Writing at Rice University. A graduate of Oberlin College, Laymon received an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University.

His literary works include his novel Long Division (2013), which won the NAACP Image Award for fiction and the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. It was also shortlisted for several awards, such as The Believer Book Award, the Morning News Tournament of Books, and the Ernest J. Gaines Fiction Award. Trevor Noah’s Day Zero Productions is currently developing a television adaptation of Long Division.

Laymon’s essay collection, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America (2013; expanded ed., 2020), was listed as a notable book by the New York Times. His bestselling memoir, Heavy: An American Memoir (2018), won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, the Barnes and Noble Discovery Award, and the Austen Riggs Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media.

Recognized as one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by the New York Times, it was listed as a best book of 2018 by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed, the Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. The audiobook, narrated by Laymon, was honored as Audible 2018 Audiobook of the Year.

In addition to his literary achievements, Laymon received a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant in 2022. His work has been published in the New York Times, Esquire, ESPN The Magazine, NPR, Colorlines, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Ebony, Guernica, The Oxford American, Lit Hub, and Gawker.

Laymon is dedicated to fostering a love for literature and justice among young minds. As the founder of The Catherine Coleman Literary Arts and Justice Initiative, based at the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University, he strives to empower young people in Jackson, Mississippi, encouraging them to engage with reading, writing, revising, and sharing on their own terms within their communities.

A recipient of the 2020-2021 Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard, Laymon remains a prolific writer with ongoing projects, including the books Good God and City Summer, Country Summer, along with various film and television endeavors. Kiese Laymon stands as a literary force, using his platform to elevate the voices of marginalized communities and leaving an indelible mark on the world of literature.

…Laymon was honored with the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant in 2022, a testament to his extraordinary contributions to the literary world….

Video Courtesy of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
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