Melissa Febos

“Anyone who makes a life of what they love is a hero to me, and it’s important for those people to be visible in every kind of life, every kind of love, every kind of work”

A fearless voice in literary non-fiction, Melissa Febos uses stories from her life to render the transforming power of obsession. Nowhere is this more apparent than in her most recent book, Abandon Me. A memoir consisting of interlinked essays, Abandon Me tells parallel stories of a consuming infatuation and a past struggle with substance abuse. However, it quickly becomes clear that for writer possessed with Febos’ extraordinary lyrical voice and natural empathy, the same single mindedness that once led her down these self-destructive paths can also be harnessed to create a fulfilling and creative life. Abandon Me was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist, a Publishing Triangle Award finalist, an Indie Next Pick, and was widely named a best book of 2017.


Joining the likes of Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed, Febos’ voice has become an inspiring - and galvanizing - call to draw strength from the darkest periods of one’s life and to live more truthfully to oneself. Her TED Talk, “Telling Your Secrets Can Set You Free” as well as her appearances on NPR’s Fresh Air and CNN demonstrate her sense of humor and displays her innate ability to connect deeply with the wide variety of audiences to whom she has spoken.

"Her mastery over metaphor is astonishing . . . What might be mere navel-gazing for a less brilliant author is made powerfully universal here. Though the particulars are hers, just about anyone can relate to the feeling of a chasm opening up inside. Febos’ awakening to her full identity, even its ugliness, is a powerful and redemptive epic." - ​Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Febos is also the author of the acclaimed memoir Whip Smart, and the upcoming illustrated essay collection, Girlhood.  The inaugural winner of the Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary; her essays have recently appeared in The Believer, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Granta, Sewanee Review, Tin House, and The New York Times. She curated the Mixer Reading and Music Series in Manhattan for ten years and served on the Board of Directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts for five. Febos an associate professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program.


"Melissa Febos was such a delight to work with from beginning until the end. At the event she read a piece was exactly on the theme of the evening; it was at once hilarious and thought-provoking and gorgeously written. She also did a fabulous job teaching a three hour class the following day, the students were raving about it in her evaluations. We would love to have her return any time"

--Christine Texeira, Hugo House