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Fiction – MFA in Writing

Our fiction faculty includes critically acclaimed writers from a variety of backgrounds. Leslie Daniels worked as a literary agent in New York City. Kirby Gann was an editor at an independent press. Neela Vaswani is an education activist in the U.S. and India. Silas House and Roy Hoffman regularly contribute to the New York Times. Our faculty hail from New York, Los Angeles, Appalachia, the deep South, and an island off the coast of Maine. (And that’s a partial list.)

All are actively writing fiction, keeping both their craft and their teaching fresh and inspired. Crystal Wilkinson’s novel The Birds of Opulence was awarded the Ernest J.Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. John Pipkin’s novel The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter, lauded in The New York Times Book Review, follows the success of his critically acclaimed debut, Woodsburner. K. L. Cook’s most recent short story collection, Love Songs for the Quarantined, won the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction, adding to his long list of top prizes and accolades. Every member of our award-winning faculty is a dedicated, caring teacher. Visit our faculty page to read more.

A statement by our fiction faculty distills their approach to teaching:

Our program helps students develop high-quality literary fiction distinguished by complex characterization, psychological depth, stylistic richness, thematic resonance, a distinctive sense of time and place, and an original approach to form and structure. You are exposed to and encouraged to work with many different forms of fiction: flash, short story, novella, short story cycle and the novel. While our low-residency model prizes the mentor-student relationship, our goal is not to shape you in the image of your mentor. Instead, we help you understand what is unique about your voice and instill in you the confidence and discipline necessary to tell your stories. We suggest aesthetic concepts and practical strategies for honing and deepening your narrative vision.

This pedagogical approach helps our students and alums launch themselves as practicing, publishing writers. Our alumni include winners of some of the most prestigious literary prizes, including the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and the Zoetrope: All Story contest. Alumni novels and story collections have been published by Random House, St. Martin’s Press, Algonquin, Macadam/Cage, University of Georgia Press and dozens more.

Current and past distinguished visiting writers include:

  • Booker Prize nominee Rachel Seiffert (The Dark Room)
  • National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Adam Johnson (The Orphan Master’s Son)
  • National Book Award winner Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried)
  • Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient)
  • Ann Patchett (Bel Canto)
  • Ernest J. Gaines (A Lesson Before Dying)
  • Lee Smith (Fair and Tender Ladies)
  • Susan Vreeland (Girl in Hyacinth Blue)