Illinois Authors

The Illinois Center for the Book banner

Ling Ma

Born: Sanming, China
Connection to Illinois: Ma lives in Chicago.

Biography: Ling Ma is a fiction writer hailing from Fujian, Utah, and Kansas. She is author of the novel Severance and the story collection Bliss Montage. Published in eight languages, her work has received a Kirkus Prize, a Whiting Award, an NEA fellowship. She lives in Chicago, where she enjoys visiting her favorite indie bookstores.

  • Severence Winner of the 2019 NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award Winner of the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Fiction Winner of the 2019 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award Winner of the 2019 Friends of American Writers First Prize in Literature Finalist for the 2019
  • Bliss Montage The Story Prize winner; National Indie Bestseller A Best Book of the Year at The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vogue, Houston Chronicle, Roxane Gay’s The Audacity, Mashable, Polygon, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal Winner of The Story Prize A Finalist for The National Book Critics Circle Award A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

Bliss Montage
ISBN: 0374293511 OCLC:

Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2022

What happens when fantasy tears the screen of the everyday to wake us up? Could that waking be our end? In Bliss Montage, Ling Ma brings us eight wildly different tales of people making their way through the madness and reality of our collective delusions: love and loneliness, connection and possession, friendship, motherhood, the idea of home. A woman lives in a house with all her ex-boyfriends. A toxic friendship grows up around a drug that makes you invisible. An ancient ritual might heal you of anything―if you bury yourself alive. These and other scenarios investigate the ways that the outlandish and the ordinary are shockingly, deceptively, heartbreakingly alike.

ISBN: 1250214998 OCLC: 1004911431

Picador 2019

Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. With the recent passing of her Chinese immigrant parents, she's had her fill of uncertainty. She's content just to carry on: She goes to work, troubleshoots the teen-targeted Gemstone Bible, watches movies in a Greenpoint basement with her boyfriend. So Candace barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Then Shen Fever spreads. Families flee. Companies cease operations. The subways screech to a halt. Her bosses enlist her as part of a dwindling skeleton crew with a big end-date payoff. Soon entirely alone, still unfevered, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost. Candace won't be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They're traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers? A send-up and takedown of the rituals, routines, and missed opportunities of contemporary life, Ling Ma's Severance is a moving family story, a quirky coming-of-adulthood tale, and a hilarious, deadpan satire. Most important, it's a heartfelt tribute to the connections that drive us to do more than survive.