Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Tayari Jones  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1970, in Atlanta Georgia

Illinois Connection

Jones took her first tenured job at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 2004. She taught creative writing. Her parents met there in the 60's.

Biographical and Professional Information

Tayari Jones is the author of four novels and holds degrees from Spelman College, Arizona State University, and the University of Iowa. A recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Tayari has taught at Prairie View A&M University, East Tennessee State University, the University of Illinois and George Washington University. In addition, she has led workshops in Portugal, Ghana, Uganda, and Brazil. Currently, she is an Associate Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University, where she was awarded with a Board of Trustees Award for Scholarly Excellence, the Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, a Leader in Faculty Diversity Award. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the United States Artists Foundation and the arts councils of Arizona and Illinois. She spent the 2011-12 academic year at Harvard University as a Radcliffe Institute Fellow, researching her forthcoming novel, Dear History.


An American Marriage

Women’s Prize for Fiction, 2019

Aspen Words Literary Prize, 2019

Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Fiction, NAACP, 2019

Black Caucus Literary Award for Fiction, American Library Association, 2019

Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize, 2019

Longlist, Orwell Prize for Fiction, 2019

Longlist, Simpson Family Literary Prize, 2019

Longlist, Aspen Words Literary Prize, 2019

Longlist, Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, 2019

Book of the Year, Apple Books, 2018

Most Notable Book List - Fiction, New York Times, 2018

Most Notable Book List - Fiction, Washington Post, 2018

Favorites of Favorites List, LibraryReads, 2018

Best of the Year Selection, NPR, 2018

Best of the Year Selection, Time, 2018

Best of the Year Selection, Bustle, 2018

Best of the Year Selection, O, The Oprah Magazine, 2018

Best of the Year Selection, Amazon, 2018

Oprah's Book Club Selection, 2018

Barack Obama Summer Reading List, 2018

Starred Review, Kirkus

Starred Review, Library Journal

Starred Review, Foreword Reviews

Longlist, National Book Award for Fiction, 2018

Finalist, 10th Annual GoodReads Choice Awards - Best of Fiction, 2018

Silver Sparrow

Big READ Selection, NEA

50 Best Southern Novels, Flavorwire, 2012

Lariat List, Texas Library Association, 2012

Honor Book, American Library Association Black Caucus, 2012

Nominated, NAACP Image Award, 2012

Best of the South, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, 2011

Best of the Year List, Mosaic Literary Magazine, 2011

Top Five Fiction Titles of the Year, Atlanta Magazine, 2011

Best of the Year List, Slate, 2011

Favorites of the Year List, Salon, 2011

Top Ten of the Year, Library Journal, 2011

#1 Choice for the Summer, TODAY Show, 2011

Leaving Atlanta

Brazos Valley Reads Selection, Texas A&M, 2013

Other Awards and Honors

Time 100 Next List, 2021

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability: Yes.

Selected Titles At Your Library

An American marriage :
ISBN: 1616208775. OCLC Number: 967202434

. .

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn't commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy's time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy's conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

Leaving Atlanta /
ISBN: 0446528307. OCLC Number: 47785643

Warner Books,. .

A tale based on the Atlanta child murders of 1979 finds Tasha coping with her parents' separation in the wake of a first crush, Rodney struggling to make friends while vying for his father's approval, and Octavia facing down the in crowd at school.

Silver sparrow :
ISBN: 1565129903. OCLC Number: 664666689

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill,. .

A story about a man's deception, a family's complicity, and two teenage girls caught in the middle. Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon's two families, the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters, the father, the two mothers, the grandmother, and the uncle, she also reveals the joy, as well as the destruction, they brought to one another's lives. At the heart of it all are the two lives at stake, and like the best writers--think Toni Morrison with The Bluest Eye--Jones portrays the fragility of these young girls with raw authenticity as they seek love, demand attention, and try to imagine themselves as women, just not as their mothers.

The untelling /
ISBN: 0446532460. OCLC Number: 55730026

Warner Books,. .

After the loss of her father and sister fifteen years ago, twenty-five-year-old Aria attempts to reinvent herself through beginning a family of her own, only to find that she must deal with the past before she can look to the future.