College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Kiese Laymon Selected as 2015-16 Grisham Writer-in-Residence

February 5, 2015  |  By Ellen Spies, Courtesy of The Daily Mississippian

Kiese Laymon

Kiese Laymon, 2015-16 Grisham-Writer-in-Residence

Kiese Laymon will be the John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence for 2015-16.

Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University, graduated from Oberlin College and later earned his MFA from Indiana University. He is currently an associate professor at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he teaches English and African Studies. Laymon’s writing includes themes of southern culture and American racism.

“I can’t wait to learn from the different communities in Oxford,” he said.

After his time in the Northeast, Laymon is returning back to the South, the place that served as a major influence in his writing.

“I couldn’t be more excited to come back home,” Laymon said.

Laymon is the author of “Long Division,” a novel that intertwines two stories from different time periods and deals with issues of racism. The novel was awarded the 2014 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing and also recognized as one of the “Best of 2013” by publications including Buzzfeed, the “Chicago Tribune” and the Crunk Feminist Collective.

Laymon has also written essays and short stories for various publications and has a published collection titled “How to Kill Yourself and Others in America.” He is also a contributing editor at “Gawker” and makes frequent posts to ESPN’s website. Bloomsbury is publishing two more of his works, “A Fat Black Memoir” and another novel, “And So On.”

“I think the writer in residence contributes a lot to the English department,” English major Claire Lee said. “It gives the students someone to look up to who has published work.”

The Grisham Writers-in-Residence fellowship began in 1993 with T.R. Pearson. The current writer is Mary Miller, author of “The Last Days of California” and “Big World.” The writer spends a year at the university.

“The resident has moved to the Grishams’ old home, where they lived in Oxford, out on Highway 6,” said Blair Hobbs, MFA liaison.

The writer in residence teaches one class a semester during their time at the university and is generally involved with the MFA program.