Ayana Mathis

Ayana Mathis, photo by Beowulf Sheehan
Ayana Mathis, photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Ayana Mathis is the author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie and, most recently, The Unsettled, which was named a New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book of 2023, a best of 2023 by the New Yorker, Publisher’s Weekly, an Oprah Daily Best Novels of 2023, and a Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2023. The New York Times calls it, “Poignant, heartbreaking.”

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, Mathis’s first novel, was a New York Times Bestseller, the second selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, a 2013 New York Times Notable Book, NPR Best Book of 2013, and was long listed for the Dublin Literary Award and nominated for Hurston/Wright Foundation’s Legacy Award.

Mathis’s essays and criticism have been published in the New York Times, AtlanticT Magazine, Financial Times, Rolling Stone, Guernica, and Glamour. Her most recent nonfiction explores the intertwining of faith and American literature in her five- part New York Times essay series “Imprinted By Belief”.

Her work has been supported by the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and the Bogliasco Foundation. She was a 2020-2021 American Academy in Berlin Prize fellow. Mathis received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and went on to become the first African-American woman to serve as an assistant professor in that program. She is currently pursuing her masters of dvinity at Union Theological Seminary and she teaches in the MFA program at Hunter College.


selected bibliography

The Unsettled by Ayana Mathis
The Unsettled (2023)
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (2012)

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online resources

Video: Mathis at the Center for Fiction with Kiese Laymon