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Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: Thompson-Spires lives in Champaign. She is an Assistant Professor of English, African American Studies, and Jewish Culture and Society at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Biography: Nafissa Thompson-Spires grew up in Rialto, California. She earned a doctorate in English from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Illinois. Her work has appeared in Story Quarterly, Lunch Ticket, East Bay Review, Compose, Blinders, FLOW, The Feminist Wire, among other publications. She was a 2016 fellow of the Callaloo Writer's Workshop.

  • """Heads of the Colored People"""
  • -- Longlisted, National Book Award for Fiction, 2018
  • -- Longlisted, Aspen Words Literary Prize, 2018
  • -- Finalist, Kirkus Prize, 2018
  • -- PEN Open Book Award
  • -- Whiting Award
  • -- Nominated, PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize
  • -- Art Sidenbaum Award for First Fiction, The LA Times
  • -- The Hurston/Wright Award for Fiction
  • -- The Audie Award for Best Short Stories
  • -- Finalist, Kirkus Prize
  • -- Best Books List, Refinery29, 2018
  • -- Best Books List, NPR, 2018
  • -- Best Books List, The Root, 2018
  • -- Best Books List, HuffPost, 2018
  • -- Best Books List, Vanity Fair, 2018
  • -- Best Books List, Bustle, 2018
  • -- Best Books List, Chicago Tribune, 2018
  • -- Best Books List, PopSugar, 2018
  • -- Best Books List, The Undefeated, 2018

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

Heads of the colored people :
ISBN: 9781684413706 OCLC: 1035016344

Each captivating story plunges headfirst into the lives of new, utterly original characters. Some are darkly humorous, from two mothers exchanging snide remarks through notes in their kids' backpacks, to the young girl contemplating how best to notify her Facebook friends of her impending suicide; while others are devastatingly poignant. A new mother and funeral singer who is driven to madness with grief for the young black boys who have fallen victim to gun violence, or the teen who struggles between her upper middle class upbringing and her desire to fully connect with black culture.