Mary Gaitskill

Acclaimed Novelist & Story Writer
National Book Award Finalist

Readings &
Lecture Topics
  • The Peculiar Place of Imagery in Literature
  • Sexuality in Literature
  • Why People Still Read
  • An Evening with Mary Gaitskill

Biography

“There may be no better writer than Gaitskill at reaching deep into what she calls…’the trapdoors in personality and obsession,’ and pulling what she finds there back out into the world. Past, present, future; heartbreak, desire, and loss—none of it is quite beyond her.” —Village Voice

“[Gaitskill’s] palpable talent puts her among the most eloquent and perceptive contemporary fiction writers.” —New York Times Book Review

“I lost my innocence to Mary Gaistkill; I think a lot of people did.” —Nerve.com

Award-winning author Mary Gaitskill is best known for delivering powerful stories of dislocation, longing, and desire with prose that “glides lightly over unsoundable depths” (Village Voice). She is the author of two novels: The Mare (2015), Veronica (2005), which was nominated for the 2005 National Book Award, National Critic’s Circle Award, and LA Times Book Award, and Two Girls, Fat and Thin (1991). Gaitskill’s most recent publication is her novella This Is Pleasure (2019) where she considers our present moment through the lens of a particular #MeToo incident. She is also the author of the story collections Don’t CryBad Behavior, and Because They Wanted To, which was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner in 1998. Bad Behavior, now a classic, made critical waves when it was first published, heralding Gaitskill’s arrival on the literary scene and established her as one of the sharpest, erotically charged, and audaciously funny writing talents of contemporary literature. In addition, Gaitskill is the author of the essay collection Somebody With A Little Hammer (2017). About her story collection, Don’t Cry, Bomb Magazine declared: “Written with her distinctive, uncanny combination of bluntness and high lyricism, Don’t Cry takes its place among artworks of great moral seriousness.”

Gaitskill’s stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. Her story “Secretary” was the basis for the feature film of the same name starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader. In 2002 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction, and in 2010 she was awarded a Cullman Research Fellowship at the New York Public Library. She has taught at U-C Berkeley, the University of Houston, New York University, Brown, and Syracuse University.

Mary Gaitskill was born in 1954 in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1981 Gaitskill graduated from the University of Michigan, where she won an award for her collection of short fiction The Woman Who Knew Judo and Other Stories.

Short Bio

Mary Gaitskill is the author of the novels The MareVeronica, which was nominated for the 2005 National Book Award, National Critic’s Circle Award, and LA Times Book Award, and Two Girls, Fat and Thin. Her most recent publication is her novella This Is Pleasure (2019). She is also the author of the story collections Bad Behavior, Because They Wanted To, which was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner in 1998, and Don’t Cry. Gaitskill’s stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. Her most recent collection of essays, Somebody With A Little Hammer (2017), was published in 2017.  She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction and a Cullman Research Fellowship at the New York Public Library.

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