Naomi Jackson, named one of Publishers Weekly‘s “Writers to Watch,” is author of The Star Side of Bird Hill, published by Penguin Press in June 2015. Her work has appeared in literary journals and magazines in the United States and abroad, including Poets & Writers, Tin House, Brilliant Corners, Virginia Quarterly Review, and the Caribbean Writer.
Her novel, set in Barbados, has been called “a gem of a book” by Entertainment Weekly. It was longlisted for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and the International Dublin Literary Award. It was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and was named an Honor Book for Fiction by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Jackson was born and raised in Brooklyn by West Indian parents. She drew on her memories of visiting Barbados and Antigua as a child when writing her debut novel. “I definitely experienced that cultural dissonance where you think that you’re really Caribbean, and then you actually go home to the Caribbean, and people think you’re very American. I wanted to work with that discomfort,” she tells Publishers Weekly. “I think writing this book really helped me complete that transition, from child to adult creative person.”
She studied fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a graduate of Williams College. She traveled to South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship, where she received a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Cape Town. She is the recipient of residencies and fellowships from Bread Loaf, MacDowell Colony, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania, Hedgebrook, and the Camargo Foundation. She has taught at the University of Iowa, University of Pennsylvania, City College of New York, and Oberlin College.
The Star Side of Bird Hill (2015)
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Video: Call & Response interview about The Star Side of Bird Hill