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Atlanta native, author Tayari Jones joins faculty of Emory University


Atlanta native and best-selling author Tayari Jones joins the creative writing program at Emory University this fall as a member of the English faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Jones is the author of four novels, including the recently published “An American Marriage,” an Oprah Book Club Selection. She has also written “Leaving Atlanta,” inspired by her experiences growing up during the Atlanta child murders, “The Untelling,” and “Silver Sparrow.”

“This appointment at Emory is truly a homecoming for me as a Southern writer. I’m thrilled to return home and teach creative writing at one of the best universities in the nation and the flagship for higher education in the South,” Jones said in a statement.

Atlanta has figured prominently in Jones’ work, specifically the areas of southwest Atlanta and Cascade Road. The main characters in her newest book were inspired by a conversation she overheard several years ago between a young couple at Lenox Square mall. Some of her characters are tied to her alma mater, Spelman College, where Jones discovered a love for creative writing during her sophomore year in a class with Atlanta playwright and author Pearl Cleage.

Part of her desire to teach at Emory was the opportunity to continue in that tradition, Jones said. “A major draw for coming to Emory was the opportunity to teach and mentor undergraduates, and to foster the next generation by helping young writers find their voice and their path,” she said.

Jones comes to Emory from Rutgers University-Newark, where she was a founding member of the university’s graduate program in creative writing. She spent the most recent academic year as the Shearing Fellow for Distinguished Writers at the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Also a graduate of the University of Iowa and Arizona State University, Jones is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and a recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the United States Artist Fellowship, a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship and the Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship.

“It is a deep pleasure to welcome to our faculty an artist with the talent and reach of Tayari Jones,” said Michael A. Elliott, the dean of Emory’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Her appointment extends Emory’s remarkable record as a home to important voices in contemporary literature.”


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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.