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Yale Writers' Workshop Faculty Bios

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Yale Writers' Workshop Faculty 2020

Our faculty are accomplished writers and editors. Along with classroom and conference time, they will be available to writers in the dining hall during meals and around the college throughout the day.

.Visiting Faculty

Susan Choi

Susan Choi’s first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction. Her second novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. Her third novel, A Person of Interest, was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2010 she was named the inaugural recipient of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award. Her fourth novel, My Education, received a 2014 Lammy Award. Her fifth novel is Trust Exercise (April 2019) and her first book for children is Camp Tiger (May 2019). A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, she teaches fiction writing at Yale and lives in Brooklyn.

Nathaniel Rich

Nathaniel Rich is the author of Losing Earth: A Recent History, and the novels King Zeno, Odds Against Tomorrow, and The Mayor’s Tongue, each a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Rich is a writer-at-large at the New York Times Magazine and a regular contributor to the Atlantic and the New York Review of Books.


Sybil Baker

Sybil Baker’s latest novel is While You Were Gone. She is also the author of The Life Plan; Talismans; and Into This World, which received an Eric Hoffer Award honorable mention and was a finalist for one of Foreword’s INDIES Book of the Year Awards.  Immigration Essays, her book of nonfiction, is the 2018-2019 Read2Achieve book at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. A UC Foundation Professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Sybil was awarded two MakeWork Grants and a 2017 Individual Artist's Fellowship from the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is also a faculty member for VCFA’s international low-residency MFA program.

Kirsten Bakis

Kirsten Bakis's novel Lives of the Monster Dogs was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, won a Bram Stoker Award, was shortlisted for Britain's prestigious Baily's Prize, and has a band named after it. A special 20th anniversary edition was released in 2017 from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, with an introduction by Jeff VanderMeer. Bakis is the recipient of a Whiting Award, a Michener/Copernicus Society of America grant, and a Teaching/Writing Fellowship from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She teaches at the Hudson Valley Writers' Center, and has been a member of the resident faculty at the Yale Summer Conference since it began.

Julie Buntin

Julie Buntin's debut novel Marlena was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize; longlisted for The Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize; and named a best book of 2017 by over a dozen outlets, including The Washington Post, NPR, and Kirkus Reviews. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Vogue, The New York Times Book Review, Guernica, and other publications. She has taught creative writing at New York University, Columbia University, and Marymount Manhattan College; she is now the director of writing programs at Catapult.

Jotham Burrello

Jotham Burrello is the director of the Yale Writers’ Workshop. His debut novel, Spindle City is forthcoming July 2020. He is the publisher of the award-winning Elephant Rock Books, professor of English at Central Connecticut State University, and curator of the Roar Reading Series. He’s written and produced multimedia on the craft of writing, and edited The Craft, essays on writing from the YWW faculty. With Janet Burroway, he produced the instructional DVD, So, Is It Done? Navigating the Revision Process. His writing has appeared in literary journals, The Hartford Courant, the Christian Science Monitor, and he’s a proud winner of the New Yorker Caption Contest. When away from his desk, Jotham raises boys and flowers on Muddy Feet Flower farm, the Nutmeg state’s premier cut flower farm located in lovely, Ashford, Connecticut.

Trey Ellis

Trey Ellis is a novelist, screenwriter, playwright, essayist and professor at Columbia University. He is the author of Bedtime Stories: Adventures in the Land of Single-Fatherhood. His books include Platitudes, Home Repairs and Right Here, Right Now which was a recipient of the American Book Award. His work for the screen includes the Peabody winning and Emmy nominated Tuskegee Airmen, and Good Fences, which was shortlisted for the PEN award for Best Teleplay of the year. His essays have appeared in The New York Times, Playboy, GQ, Vanity Fair and, among others, and NPR’s All Things Considered. His play, Fly, was commissioned by the Lincoln Center Institute and continues to be performed around the country.

Lisa Page

Lisa Page is co-editor of the anthology, We Wear The Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America  (Beacon Press).  Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Short Fiction, Playboy, Playbill, The Crisis, the Washington Post Book World and other publications. She directs Creative Writing at the George Washington University.  She has taught writing workshops in a Maryland correctional facility as well as in universities in Chicago, Washington, DC, Virginia, and New Haven, CT. She has interviewed writers for television, magazines and public forums. She has also coached writers, individually. She lives outside Washington, DC.

Rebecca Schiff

Rebecca Schiff is the author of the story collection The Bed Moved (Knopf 2016), a finalist for an LA Times Book Award in First Fiction and a Sami Rohr Prize. Her fiction has appeared in Electric Literature, n+1, The Guardian, Washington Square, and BuzzFeed, among other publications, and was anthologized in The Best Small Fictions 2017. She has taught writing workshops at Columbia University, in the MFA programs at Mountainview and Bowling Green State University, and through Catapult Writing Programs.

Non Fiction

Mary Collins

Mary Collins’s most recent book, At the Broken Places: A Mother and Trans Son Pick Up the Pieces (Beacon Press), won the 2018 Best Memoir of the Year Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Kate Borstein calls the book, which Mary co-authored with her trans son Donald, the “best, most thorough narrative of trans experience I’ve read: mind, body and soul.” A former writer and editor for National Geographic and Smithsonian, Mary taught part-time for twelve years at the Johns Hopkins MA in Writing Program and is currently the program coordinator for the writing minor at Central Connecticut State University.  She's working on her sixth nonfiction book, Listening In: On the Road to Visit My Bronzed Relatives and Story-Share in America.

Mishka Shubaly

Mishka Shubaly is a songwriter, comedian, storyteller, and author. He was awarded the Dean’s Fellowship for Fiction by Columbia University. His six Kindle Singles for Amazon have all been bestsellers. His work has been praised by artists as diverse as Doug Stanhope, Caitlin Flanagan, Joe Perry, Ron White, and Rob Sheffield. He tours around the world and has shared the stage with everyone from Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Richard Price. I Swear I’ll Make It Up to You, his first hardcover memoir, was released in 2016. When We Were Animals, his fourth album, was released in 2018.

Sergio Troncoso

Sergio Troncoso is author of A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant’s Son, a collection of linked short stories on immigration which Junot Díaz called “a masterwork.” Troncoso also wrote From This Wicked Patch of Dust, which Kirkus Reviews named one of the best books of 2012 in a starred review. The novel also won the Southwest Book Award. Troncoso wrote Crossing Borders: Personal Essays, winner of the Bronze Award for Essays from Foreword Reviews. He is also the author of The Nature of Truth, hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “impressively lucid.” Publishers Weekly called his first book, The Last Tortilla and Other Stories, “Richly satisfying.” He is currently vice president of the Texas Institute of Letters. He has served as a judge for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the New Letters Prize for Essays. His work has recently appeared in The Yale Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Texas Monthly.

.Visiting Faculty

Okey Ndibe

Okey Ndibe is the author of Foreign Gods, Inc. and Arrows of Rain (novels) and a memoir, Never Look an American in the Eye. He earned MFA and PhD degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and has taught at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York; Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island; Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut; Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and the University of Lagos (as a Fulbright scholar). He was a 2015 Shearing Fellow of the Black Mountain Institute (BMI) at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His editorial pieces have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Hartford Courant, BBC online, The Guardian (UK), Financial Times, and D La Repubblica (Italy).

Children and Young Adult

Sarah Darer-Littman

Sarah Darer Littman is the critically acclaimed author of sixteen middle grade and young adult novels, including Anything But Okay, Backlash, In Case You Missed It, Confessions of a Closet Catholic, Charmed, I’m Sure, and Fairest of Them All. She’s particularly fascinated by the gray areas at the intersection of adolescent development with technology. When she’s not writing young people, Sarah is an adjunct professor in the MFA program at Western Connecticut State University and a freelance political journalist, which keeps her life balanced with an interesting mix of fan mail and hate mail.

First Ten Pages: Fiction and Memoir

Nahid Rachlin

Nahid Rachlin went to Columbia University Writing Program on a Doubleday-Columbia Fellowship and then to Stanford University writing program on a Wallace Stegner Fellowship. Her publications include a memoir, Persian Girls  (Penguin), four novels, Foreigner (W.W. Norton) and a short story collection, Veils (City Lights.) Her individual stories have appeared in many magazines. One of her stories was produced by Symphony Space, “Selected Shorts,” and aired on NPR’s around the country. She has been interviewed on NPR stations such as Fresh Air (Terry Gross), and in magazines including, Poets & Writers and Writers Chronicle. She has written reviews and essays for New York Times and Los Angeles Times. She has taught creative writing at Barnard College, Southampton College, New York University and New School. She also teaches in a variety of writer’s conferences in the U.S. and Europe, including Paris Writers Conference, Iowa Summer writers conference.

Historical Fiction

Louis Bayard

In the words of the New York Times, Louis Bayard “reinvigorates historical fiction,” rendering the past "as if he'd witnessed it firsthand." His acclaimed historical novels include Courting Mr. Lincoln, Roosevelt's Beast, The School of Night, The Black Tower, The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy, as well as the highly praised young-adult novel, Lucky Strikes. A New York Times Notable author, he has been nominated for both the Edgar and Dagger awards, and his story, “Banana Triangle Six,” was chosen for The Best American Mystery Stories 2018. His reviews and articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Salon. An instructor at George Washington University, he is a board member for the PEN Faulkner Foundation and the author of the popular Downton Abbey recaps for the New York Times.

Mystery and Thriller

Hallie Ephron

New York Times bestselling author Hallie Ephron is an Edgar Award finalist and five-time finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She writes books she hopes readers can’t put down. She’s the author of eleven crime novels and was the crime fiction book reviewer for the Boston Globe for more than a decade. Her new suspense novel, Careful What You Wish For, received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. Reviewing it for TIME Magazine, Jamie Lee Curtis called it “thrilling and suspenseful.” Hallie is the author of Writing & Selling Your Mystery Novel which was nominated for Edgar and Anthony awards. She teaches and speaks at writing conferences across the country and abroad.

Personal Essay/Memoir

Lary Bloom

During 30 years as a magazine editor, Lary Bloom published hundreds of personal essays by prominent and unknown writers. Among his discoveries: the Pulitzer Prize winners Dave Barry and Madeleine Blais, and best-selling novelist Wally Lamb. His books include The Writer Within, Lary Bloom’s Connecticut Notebook, and the spring 2019 release, Sol LeWitt: A Life of Ideas, a biography. He is coauthor of the memoirs The Test of Our Times. The Ignorant Maestro, and Letters From Nuremberg. As a freelance editor, he brought many books to publication. He is cofounder of Writing at the Mark Twain House, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival and a writing retreat in Italy. His plays include Worth Avenue, Wild Black Yonder and A Woman of a Certain Age (lyricist).

Sonya Huber

Sonya Huber is the author of five books, including Opa Nobody, Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir, and the essay collection on chronic pain, Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, and other outlets. She teaches at Fairfield University and in the Fairfield low-residency MFA program.

Short Stories

Emily Barton

Emily Barton is the author of the novels The Book of Esther, Brookland, and The Testament of Yves Gundron as well as numerous stories, essays, and reviews; she has been writing for The New York Times Book Review for twenty years. A recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Michener/Copernicus Society of America, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, she has taught undergraduate creative writing at Yale and Princeton, among other institutions. She currently teaches at Oberlin.

Marian Thurm

Marian Thurm is the author of seven novels and four short story collections, including the most recent, Today Is Not Your Day, a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her novel The Clairvoyant was a New York Times Notable Book. Her short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Michigan Quarterly, the Southampton Review, and many other magazines, and have been included in The Best American Short Stories, and numerous other anthologies. Her books have been translated into Japanese, Swedish, Dutch, German, and Italian. In addition to teaching at the YWC since 2013, she has taught creative writing at Yale and Barnard, and in the MFA programs at Columbia University and Brooklyn College.

Write Here, Write Now

Patricia Ann McNair

Patricia Ann McNair writes fiction and nonfiction. The Temple of Air (stories), won Southern Illinois University Devil’s Kitchen Readers Award, Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year, and was a finalist for Society of Midland Authors Adult Fiction Award. And These Are The Good Times (essays), was a Montaigne Medal finalist.  Responsible Adults (stories) is forthcoming in 2020. She is the director of undergraduate creative writing programs at Columbia College Chicago, and is on the graduate faculty there. McNair was nominated for the Carnegie Foundation’s U.S. Professor of the Year.

Session I

Jennifer Acker

Jennifer Acker is founder and editor in chief of The Common, and author of the debut novel The Limits of the World. Her memoir Fatigu” is a #1 Amazon bestseller, and her short stories, essays, translations, and reviews have appeared in the Washington Post, Literary Hub, n+1, Guernica, The Yale Review, Off Assignment, and Ploughshares, among other places. Acker has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and teaches writing and editing at Amherst College, where she directs the Literary Publishing Internship and LitFest. She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband. Lit Journal Panel June 9, 1:30 pm - 3 pm.

Maisy Card

Maisy Card holds an MFA in Fiction from Brooklyn College and is a public librarian. Her writing has appeared in Lenny Letter, School Library Journal, Agni, Sycamore Review, Liars’ League NYC, and Ampersand Review. Maisy was born in St. Catherine, Jamaica, but was raised in Queens, New York. Maisy earned an MLIS from Rutgers University and a BA in English and American Studies from Wesleyan University. She is the author of These Ghosts Are Family. Debut Book Panel June 10th 1:30 pm -2:30 pm.

Sonali Chanchani

Sonali Chanchani is an associate agent at Folio Literary Management, where she represents character-driven literary fiction, upmarket women’s fiction, and narrative nonfiction. In fiction, she’s particularly interested in smart, funny novels about identity and coming of age; braided narratives of friendship and family; nuanced psychological suspense; and elevated crime fiction. In nonfiction, she’s looking for reported narratives that speak to larger social, cultural, and political issues. Sonali earned her degree in English and Narrative Studies from the University of Southern California and began her career in publishing at Kaya Press. A fierce advocate of authors from marginalized communities, she’s keen to represent a diversity of voices. Agent Panel June 10th, 3 pm - 3:45 pm.

Christina Chiu

Christina Chiu is the winner of the 2018 James Alan McPherson Award. The winning novel, Beauty, is forthcoming in 2020 . She is also author of Troublemaker and Other Saints. Troublemaker was alternate selection for BOMC and QPB, a nominee for a BOMC First Fiction Award, and winner of the Asian American Literary Award. Chiu has published in magazines and anthologies, including Tin House, Charlie Chan is Dead 2, Not the Only One, Washington Square, World Wide Writers, The MacGuffin, the Asian Pacific American Journal, Acorn, Grandmothers: Granddaughters Remember, and Not the Only One. The recipient of the Asian American Literary Award, Chiu also received the Robert Simpson Fellowship, the Alternate Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, the Van Lier Fellowship; she won the New Stone Circle Fiction Contest. Chiu curates and co-hosts the Pen Parentis Literary Salons in New York City. Craft Talk June 7th, 1:45 pm - 3 pm.

Penelope Cray

Penelope Cray's Miracles Come on Mondays was selected by Kazim Ali for the 2018 Robert C. Jones Prize for Short Prose. Cray's poems and short fiction have appeared in such journals as Harvard Review, New England Review, Bartleby Snopes, elimae, Pleiades, and American Letters & Commentary and in the anthology Please Do Not Remove (2014). She lives with her family in northern Vermont, where she operates an editorial business from home. Debut Book Panel June 10th 1:30 pm -2:30 pm.

Kristina Marie Darling

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of thirty-four books, which include DIFFICULT:  Essays on Contemporary Feminist Poetry (Black Ocean); Look to Your Left:  A Feminist Poetics of Spectacle (Akron Poetry Series); Angel of the North (Salmon Poetry); and a critical study on silence and experimental poetry forthcoming from Clemson University Press. Kristina currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Press and Tupelo Quarterly, an opinion columnist at The Los Angeles Review of Books, a contributing writer at Publishers Weekly, a staff blogger at The Kenyon Review, and a freelance book critic at The New York Times Book Review.  In 2019, she was granted a three-year tenure as an expert consultant with the U.S. Fulbright Commission. Lit Journal Panel June 9, 1:30 pm - 3 pm.

Mark Gottlieb

Mark Gottlieb is a highly ranked literary agent both in overall deals and other individual categories. Using that same initiative and insight for identifying talented writers, he is actively building his own client list of authors. Mark Gottlieb is excited to work directly with authors, helping to manage and grow their careers with all of the unique resources that are available at book publishing’s leading literary agency, Trident Media Group. During his time at Trident Media Group, Mark Gottlieb has represented numerous New York Times bestselling authors, as well as award-winning authors, and has optioned and sold books to film and TV production companies. He previously ran the agency’s audiobook department, in addition to working in foreign rights. Mark Gottlieb is actively seeking submissions in all categories and genres and looking forward to bringing new and established authors to the curious minds of their future readers. Agent Panel June 10th, 3 pm - 3:45 pm.

Andrew Ibis

Andrew Ibis is a publisher, editor, writer, and artrepreneur.  He is Co-Director of C&R Press, Mastodon Publishing, and Steel Toe Books. He’s a member of the collective Pank Magazine/Books. He edits Fjords Review and serves on the board of several writing/book/art-related startups. He’s published in Flock, The Hollins Critic, Quiet Lunch, At Large, Terminus, Bridge 8, and Pank. He consults with writers, presses, and universities on writing and publishing. He has an MFA from Hollins University and BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a certificate in publishing from the Yale School of Management. Andrew splits time between North Carolina and NYC. Lit Journal Panel June 9, 1:30 pm - 3 pm.

Alec Shane

Alec Shane majored in English at Brown University, a degree he put to immediate use by moving to Los Angeles after graduation to become a professional stunt man. Realizing that he prefers books to breakaway glass, he moved to New York City in 2008 to pursue a career in publishing, where he quickly found a home at Writers House Literary Agency. He has been there ever since. On the nonfiction side, Alec would love to see humor, biography, history (particularly military history), true crime, “guy” reads, and all things sports. In fiction, Alec is looking for mystery, thrillers (though he’s experiencing terrorist fatigue at the moment), suspense, horror, historical fiction, literary fiction, and middle grade and young adult fiction. He doesn’t want romance, straight sci-fi, high fantasy, picture books, self-help, women’s fiction, food, or travel memoir. Agent Panel June 10th, 3 pm - 3:45 pm.

Maria Whalen

Maria graduated from University College Dublin with a BA in English and Drama then obtained her Masters in Modern Literature from the University of Edinburgh. Since moving in New York from Ireland, Maria worked as a Foreign Rights Assistant at Janklow & Nesbit and interned at Akashic Books. She is now a literary agent at InkWell Management where she has had the privilege of working with a kaleidoscopic array of writers. Maria enjoys literary fiction and upmarket women’s fiction, as well as non-fiction, revolving around peculiar or overlooked facets of society. Agent Panel June 10th, 3 pm - 3:45 pm.

Session II

Courtney Maum

Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Costalegre (a GOOP book club pick), I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You and Touch (a New York Times Editor’s Choice and NPR Best Book of the Year selection), and the handbook Before and After the Book Deal: A writer’s guide to finishing, publishing, promoting, and surviving your first book, forthcoming from Catapult. Her writing has been widely published in such outlets as the New York Times, O, the Oprah Magazine, and Poets & Writers. She is the founder of the learning collaborative, The Cabins, and she also runs a service called “The Query Doula” where she helps writers prepare their manuscripts and query letters for an agent’s eyes.  Publishing Talk June 15th, 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm.

Eileen Pollack

Eileen Pollack graduated from Yale with a BS in physics and earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She is the author of the novels The Professor of Immortality, The Bible of Dirty Jokes, A Perfect Life, and Breaking and Entering, which was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice selection, as well as two collections of short fiction, The Rabbi in the Attic and In the Mouth, which won the Edward Lewis Wallant Award. Eileen’s work of creative nonfiction Woman Walking Ahead: In Search of Catherine Weldon and Sitting Bull was recently made into a movie starring Jessica Chastain and Sam Rockwell. Her investigative memoir The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys’ Club was published in 2015; a long excerpt appeared in the New York Times Sunday Magazine and went viral. Her novella The Bris was chosen by Stephen King for Best American Short Stories 2007. A former director of the MFA Program at the University of Michigan, she now lives and writes in Manhattan. Craft Talk June 14th, 2 pm - 3:15 pm