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Claire Vaye Watkins 

Photo credit: Heike Steinweg

“What is so incredible and essential about an authentic cultural scene is it rejects a value system based on consumption and productivity and instead celebrates creation, critical thought, aesthetics and expression. That can’t be mass marketed.”

Claire Vaye Watkins’ debut novel, Gold Fame Citrus, was published in 2016 to wide acclaim and has been recognized as a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR, Vanity Fair, The Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, and The Atlantic, among many others. Watkins appeared on Granta's prestigious list of Best of Young American Novelists, “5 under 35” fiction writer by the National Book Foundation, and has been awarded the Story Prize, The Dylan Thomas Prize, The New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among others.

Her most recent novel, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness unfolds in a mesmerizing, hallucinatory desert where a new mother, away from her newborn and husband, is bourne into her past, revisiting doomed love, cults, and addictions. Forced to find her own way though the darkness, she moves towards the promise of becoming "at home in the world."

“A tour-de-force. . . . Much of motherhood literature can radiate a sort of wounded egotism, as if the greatest crime that society might commit against a woman were to think ill of her. Watkins, though, neither stews nor panders. She just follows her light.” —The New Yorker

Watkins has captivated crowds across the country with her keen sense of humor, and sharp insights about the craft of writing and literary culture as a whole. Her essay “On Pandering” about the masculine bias of literary tastemakers quickly became a viral sensation, igniting impassioned commentary and debate within, and beyond, literary circles. 


She has received the Story Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award, and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, Watkins is a professor at the University of California, Irvine, and lives in Twentynine Palms, California.


 "The whole day was GREAT! First of all, Claire is lovely and down to earth, witty and charming. So that made us all relax a bit. Her master class was a home run, and her talk was rich and inspiring." - Montana State University  

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