Tucson Festival of Books

Ayana Mathis (She/Her)

Beowulf Sheehan

Ayana Mathis is the author of "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" (Knopf, 2012) and most recently, "The Unsettled" (Knopf, 2023) which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, 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,” while The Minneapolis Star Tribune describes it as, “An ardent, ambitious, and carefully stitched tapestry of a novel, one that deserves and rewards our attention.”

Her first novel, "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie", 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 The New York Times, The Atlantic, T Magazine, The Financial Times, Rolling Stone, Guernica and Glamour. Currently pursuing her Masters of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary, Mathis’s 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 Writer's Workshop and went on to become the first African-American woman to serve as an Assistant Professor in that program. She currently teaches at Hunter College in the MFA Program.

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Awards: Hurston-Wright Foundation Legacy Award; Dublin Literary Award Longlist; Berlin Prize Fellow

Communities: LGBTQ+, African American

Scheduled events:
Harmoniously Flawed: Living in Complicated Communities
Authors Gabriel Bump, Bonnie Jo Campbell, and Ayana Mathis discuss the challenges involved when presenting flawed communities ... and how to balance all of the challenging characters and darker moments against characters with more integrity and hopeful undertones

Modern Languages Room 350 (Seats 318, Wheelchair accessible)  View this venue on the Festival map
Sat, Mar 9, 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Fiction / Literature
Signing area: Sales & Signing Area - Central Mall (following presentation)  View this venue on the Festival map

Panelists: Gabriel Bump, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Ayana Mathis
Moderator: Janet Laird
Better Worlds: Creating a New Community
Join authors Cristina HenrĂ­quez, Ayana Mathis, and Gabriel Bump as they discuss creating characters who dream of, find, and build new communities ... all while handling the hardships and obstacles that go along with the process.

Koffler Room 218 (Seats 142, Wheelchair accessible)  View this venue on the Festival map
Sun, Mar 10, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Fiction / Literature
Signing area: Sales & Signing Area - UA BookStore Tent (on Mall) (following presentation)  View this venue on the Festival map

Panelists: Gabriel Bump, Cristina HenrĂ­quez, Ayana Mathis
Moderator: Nell Brownell

The Unsettled
A novel
Fiction / Literature
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
September 2023
ISBN 9780525519935
336 pages
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The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
A Novel
Fiction / Literature
October 2013
ISBN 9780307949707
320 pages