Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Kalisha Buckhanon  

Pen Name: None

Genre: C:ADULT Fiction

Born: 1977 in Kankakee, Illinois


Illinois Connection

Kalisha Buckhanon was born and raised in Kankakee, Illinois, where she was Miss Junior Kankakee 1993 and also served as Class President of her high school for four years. She was an enthusiastic honors student and received the most scholarships in her high school class. She attended the University of Chicago for a bachelors degree in English Language and Literature. She taught humanities at Kankakee Community College in the year her first novel, Upstate, debuted. She returned to the University of Chicago for its PhD program in English Language and Literature in 2006. She achieved a masters degree in English. Her second novel Conception is set on the South Side of Chicago, as well as her third novel Card Parties. She has interviewed and published stories on such notable Chicago cultural residents as tap dancer Ernest "Brownie" Brown, jazz singer Maggie Brown and tap dancer Bril Barrett of MADD Rhythms. She has been an active student and artist with the ETA Creative Arts Founda tion on Chicago's South Side. She has led creative writing workshops or spoken on art and culture at: Harold Washington Public Library, several Chicago Public Libraries, American Library Association's 2005 Annual Conference in Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Chicago State University, Literature For All Of Us, Neighborhood Writing Alliance, Hyde Park's African Festival of the Arts, the ETA Creative Arts Foundation, Kankakee High School, Kankakee Public Library, Oakton Community College in Des Plaines and many Chicago high schools.

Biographical and Professional Information

Kalisha Buckhanon is the author of the novels Upstate, winner of an American Library Association ALEX Award and a Hurston-Wright Foundation Debut Fiction Award finalist; Conception, winner of a Friends of American Writers Literary Fiction Award; and the forthcoming Card Parties, based upon her short story which won a Bessie Head/Zora Neale Hurston Short Fiction Award at the Gwendolyn Brooks Black Literature and Writing Conference.She is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship, an Audio Publishers Association Audie Award in Literary Fiction for the Upstate audiobook, the Terry McMillan Young Author Award at the National Book Club Conference, an Honorable Mention in the Mary Roberts Rinehart Awards at George Mason University and an Andrew Mellon/Mays Foundation Minority Undergraduate Fellowship for humanities research. She is part of the permanent African-American History exhibit of the Kankakee County Historical Society Museum in Illinois for her achievements and cultural contributions to her birthplace of Kankakee, Illinois.Her fiction and essays have appeared in such places as Michigan Quarterly Review, London Independent and Black Issues Book Review. She has taught creative writing, humanities and English through the PEN American Center’s Prison Writing Program, Kankakee Community College and many youth and school programs. Kalisha has an M.F.A in Creative Writing from The New School in New York City, and a B.A. and M.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library


-- *Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship, ''The Junction, a manuscript'' *Hurston-Wright Foundation Debut Fiction finalist, ''Upstate, a novel'' *American Library Association ALEX Award, ''Upstate, a Novel'' *Friends of American Writers Literary Prize, ''Conception, a novel'' *Audie Award in Literary Fiction, ''Upstate, an audiobook''