“I don't mind expressing my opinions and speaking out against injustice. I would be doing this even if I wasn't a writer. I grew up in a household that believed in social justice. I have always understood myself as having an obligation to stand on the side of the silenced, the oppressed, and the mistreated.” – Tayari Jones
Born in Atlanta on this date in 1970, Jones won the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction for her 2002 novel Leaving Atlanta, a three-voiced coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the Atlanta Child Murders of 1979-81. Written while she was a graduate student at Arizona State University, she based the story on her own experience as a child in Atlanta during that period.
While she wrote the book in grad school she actually started her career while still and undergraduate at Atlanta’s Spelman College, where she earned her degree in English. She now has written 3 successful novels, following Atlanta with The Untelling and Silver Sparrow, both best sellers and award recipients.
Now an Associate Professor at Rutgers-Newark University, she is currently in a year-long Distinguished Writer program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In addition to teaching, she also continues her longtime efforts to mentor up-and-coming young writers, especially girls. “I take mentoring very seriously,” she said, “and I am on the board of an organization called Girls Write Now, where we match teen girls and writing mentors because it changes their lives.”
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