Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Award-winning Fiction Writer & Critic

Readings &
Lecture Topics
  • Love as Intersectional Pedagogy
  • Audre Lorde, Pleasure, and the Queer Poetics of Joy
  • Black Queer Feminist Diasporas
  • Pedagogies of the Irresistible
  • An Evening with Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Biography

“Mecca Jamilah Sullivan gives voice to girls and women with unruly bodies who dare to take up space in a world that shames them for being hungry for more. A tender and sumptuous offering of beauty.” ―Janet Mock

“Sullivan’s thinking elegantly explores the ways black women writers use genre as a queer practice of difference.” –Kevin Quashie

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan’s fiction explores the intellectual, emotional, and bodily lives of young black women through voice, music, and hip-hop inflected magical realist techniques. She is the author of the short story collection Blue Talk and Love (2015), winner of the Judith Markowitz Award for Fiction from Lambda Literary; The Poetics of Difference: Queer Feminist Forms in the African Diaspora (University of Illinois Press, 2021); and her highly anticipated debut novel Big Girl (W.W. Norton & Co. (2022), which was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize.

About Sullivan’s debut novel, Big Girl, Kiese Laymon says, “There are three books on earth that I would give anything to be able to write and reread until the suns burns us up. Big Girl is one of those books. The sound, the expansiveness of the whispers, the critical, brilliant, sometimes bruising, beautiful Black girlness explored in this novel is literally second to none. I know I have just read and reread a new American classic that we as a culture and country desperately need. Believe that.” While Rick Moody succinctly observes her writing to feel, “nearly Faulknerian.”

Sullivan’s short stories have appeared in Best New Writing, Kenyon Review, American Fiction: Best New Stories by Emerging Writers, Prairie Schooner, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize Stories, BLOOM: Queer Fiction, Art, Poetry and More, TriQuarterly, Feminist Studies, All About Skin: Short Stories by Award-Winning Women Writers of Color, DC Metro Weekly, Baobab: South African Journal of New Writing, and many others. A 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee, she is the winner of the Charles Johnson Fiction Award, the Glenna Luschei Fiction Award, the James Baldwin Memorial Playwriting Award, and honors from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Lambda Literary, and the Center for Fiction in New York City, where she received an inaugural Emerging Writers Fellowship.

A proud native of Harlem, NY, Sullivan’s critical and scholarly work on sexuality, identity, and poetics in contemporary African Diaspora culture has appeared in The Cut, Feminist Studies, American Quarterly, College Literature, The Rumpus, Ebony.com, The Feminist Wire, Black Futures, and many others. Mecca’s research and scholarship have earned support from the Mellon-Mays Foundation, the Social Sciences Research Council, Williams College, Rutgers University, Duke University, the American Academy of University Women, and the Institute for Citizens and Scholars (formerly the Woodrow Wilson Foundation).

She is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University and lives in Washington, DC.

Short Bio

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan is the author of Big Girl and Blue Talk and Love, winner of the Judith A. Markowitz Award from Lambda Literary. Sullivan is an associate professor of English at Georgetown University. A native of Harlem, she lives in Washington, DC.

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