Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Tayari Jones  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Born: 1970, in Atlanta Georgia


-- Twitter -- http://www.twitter.com
-- Website -- https://www.tayarijones.com

E-Mail: -- info@tayarijones.com.


Illinois Connection

Jones took her first tenured job at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 2004. She taught creative writing. Her parents met there in the 60's.

Biographical and Professional Information

Tayari Jones is the author of four novels and holds degrees from Spelman College, Arizona State University, and the University of Iowa. A recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Tayari has taught at Prairie View A&M University, East Tennessee State University, the University of Illinois and George Washington University. In addition, she has led workshops in Portugal, Ghana, Uganda, and Brazil. Currently, she is an Associate Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University, where she was awarded with a Board of Trustees Award for Scholarly Excellence, the Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, a Leader in Faculty Diversity Award. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the United States Artists Foundation and the arts councils of Arizona and Illinois. She spent the 2011-12 academic year at Harvard University as a Radcliffe Institute Fellow, researching her forthcoming novel, Dear History.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Leaving Atlanta
ISBN: 0446528307

Warner Books. 2002

A tale based on the Atlanta child murders of 1979 finds Tasha coping with her parents' separation in the wake of a first crush Rodney struggling to make friends while vying for his abusive father's approval, and Octavia facing down the in crowd at school. A first novel. 40,000 first printing.

Silver Sparrow
ISBN: 1565129903

Algonquin Books. 2011

From the New York Times Bestselling Author of An American Marriage

“A love story . . . Full of perverse wisdom and proud joy . . . Jones’s skill for wry understatement never wavers.”
O: The Oprah Magazine

Silver Sparrow will break your heart before you even know it. Tayari Jones has written a novel filled with characters I’ll never forget. This is a book I’ll read more than once.”
Judy Blume

With the opening line of Silver Sparrow, “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist,” author Tayari Jones unveils a breathtaking story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and the two teenage girls caught in the middle.

Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s two families—the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode. This is the third stunning novel from an author deemed “one of the most important writers of her generation” (the Atlanta Journal Constitution).

An American Marriage: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club 2018 Selection)
ISBN: 1616208775

Algonquin Books. 2018

A NEW YORK TIMES AND WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK

A 2018 BEST OF THE YEAR SELECTION OF NPR * TIME * BUSTLE * O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE * THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS * AMAZON.COM

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB 2018 SELECTION

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION


“A moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.” —Barack Obama

“Haunting . . . Beautifully written.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Brilliant and heartbreaking . . . Unforgettable.” —USA Today

“A tense and timely love story . . . Packed with brave questions about race and class.” —People

“Compelling.” —The Washington Post

“Epic . . . Transcendent . . . Triumphant.” —Elle


Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward—with hope and pain—into the future.


Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability: Yes.