American novelist and academic Tayari Jones (born November 30, 1970) is mainly remembered for her book An American Wedding, which received the 2019 Women’s Prize for Literature and was chosen for Oprah’s Book Club in 2018.
Jones holds degrees from the University Of Arizona, the University of Iowa, and Spelman College.
She had just moved back to Atlanta after ten years in Nyc, where she was a student in the English department at the Arts and Sciences College at Emory University.
Before accepting the Charles Howard Candler Chair of Comparative Literature position at Emory University, Jones served as the Andrew Dickson White Professor-at-Large with Cornell University.
Early Life and Education
Jones was birthed and reared by her parents, Mack and Barbara Jones, who were active in the 1960s movement for civil rights in Cascade Heights, Atlanta.
Her parents eventually earned PhDs in human sciences and worked as Clark College teachers. Her mom told economics at Clark College, while her father lectured in politics at Atlanta University.
Jones reflects on her upbringing in the civil rights movement era and how playing with black dolls and receiving books showing black children made her intensely conscious of her race.
Jones, whose surname in Swahili means “she is ready,” has two brothers & two half-sisters through her father’s prior marriage.
The Atlanta killings between 1979 and 1981 occurred when Jones was already at the elementary level, and she called them “the most important event of my upbringing.” At Oglethorpe Elementary, two of her friends were killed.
Jones’ childhood experiences at this period served as the basis for her debut book, Leaving Atlanta.
Jones entered Atlanta’s historically black women’s institution, Spelman College, after completing her high school education at Benjamin Mays.
She trained under Pearl Cleage while she was a student at Spelman. Jones looked up to Spelman College’s first black female president, Johnetta Cole.
She received a master’s degree in English through the State of Iowa in 1994 after graduating from Spelman, after which she earned a degree in visual arts in the novel from Arizona State College in 2000.
Besides the National Council for Art, the Harvard Radcliffe Foundation, and U. S. Artists, she has won other scholarships.
The debut book by Employment Jones, Leaving Atlanta, is a coming-of-age tale told in three voices against the background of the 1979–1981 Atlanta Child Murders. LaTasha Baxter, Rodney Green, and Octavia Fuller are the three kids that provide the book’s three points of view.
She drew her book, which she wrote while a grad student from Arizona State, on her experiences growing up in Atlanta throughout that time.
The Hurston/Wright Legacy Prize for Debut Novel was given to it in 2003. The Leaving Atlanta movie option has been bought by Aletha Spann of 30Nineteen Films.
Throughout Atlanta, The Untelling also is set. The novel, which Publishers Weekly called Jones’s “deep-felt second novel,” explores how the protagonist deals with losing significant relatives as a youngster before needing to reinvent herself in her mid-twenties. In 2005, it won the Lillian Smith Book Award.