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Her first novel, Leaving Atlanta, is a coming of age story set during the city’s infamous child murders of 1979-81. Jones herself was in the fifth grade when thirty African American children were murdered from the neighborhoods near her home and school.
Leaving Atlanta received many awards and accolades including the Hurston/Wright Award for Debut Fiction. It was named “Novel of the Year” by Atlanta Magazine, “Best Southern Novel of the Year,” by Creative Loafing Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Washington Post both listed it as one of the best of 2002. She has received fellowships from organizations including Illinois Arts Council, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, The Corporation of Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, Arizona Commission on the Arts and Le Chateau de Lavigny.
Her second novel, The Untelling, published in 2005, is the story of a family struggling to overcome the aftermath of a fatal car accident.
Upon the publication of The Untelling, Essence magazine called Jones, "a writer to watch." In 2005, The Southern Regional council and the University of Georgia Libraries awarded The Untelling with the Lillian C. Smith Award for New Voices.
Tayari Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, The University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University.
Silver Sparrow is her third novel. 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.
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