Indiana University Creative Writing Program
Creative Writing Program
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(2003 Graduate)

Hometown: Brandon, Mississippi

Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned an MFA from Indiana University and is the author of the novel, Long Division which won the Saroyan Prize for International Writing Award and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. Long Division was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by a number of publications, including Buzzfeed, The Believer, Salon, Guernica, Mosaic Magazine, Chicago Tribune, The Morning News, MSNBC, Library Journal, Contemporary Literature, and the Crunk Feminist Collective. Both of Laymon's book are finalists for the Mississippi Award for Arts and Letters in the fiction and nonfiction categories. Laymon has written essays and stories for numerous publications including Esquire, ESPN, Colorlines, NPR, Gawker, Truthout, Longman’s Hip Hop Reader, The Best American Non-required Reading, Guernica, Mythium and Politics and Culture. Laymon is currently at work on a new novel “And So On” and a memoir called 309: A Fat Black Memoir. He is an Associate Professor of English at Vassar College.

  • 2014 Saroyan Prize for International Writing
  • Guy Lemmon Award in Public Writing (Creative Writing division), Indiana University, 2001
  • Lois Davidson Ellis Literary Award, Indiana University, 2000
  • Kraft Fellowship, Indiana University, 1999-2000
  • Graduate Minority Fellowship, Indiana University, 1998-99
  • Mellon Foundation Undergraduate Fellowship, Oberlin College, 1996-98
  • Commentary Editor, Oberlin Review, 1996-98
  • Editor, The Voice, Oberlin College, 1996-98
  • Editor, Nommo, Oberlin College, 1995-96
  • Opinions Editor, Purple and White, Millsaps College, 1993-95
  • NAACP Benjamin Brown Youth Leadership Award