Carmen Maria Machado. Photo by Art Streiber.
What does she do? Carmen Maria Machado is an American short story author, essayist, and critic. Her writing is frequently published in The New Yorker, Granta, and Lightspeed Magazine. Her story collection Her Body and Other Parties, published in 2017, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction. It also won the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award John Leonard Prize. Her stories have been reprinted in Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, Best Horror of the Year, The New Voices of Fantasy, and Best Women’s Erotica.
Who is she? Raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Machado was born to Cuban and Austrian immigrants. She earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has since received fellowships and residencies from a variety of foundations: the Michener-Copernicus Foundation, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the CINTAS Foundation, the Speculative Literature Foundation, the University of Iowa, the Yaddo Corporation, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts.
Machado has said that her writing is influenced by Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Angela Carter, Kelly Link, Helen Oyeyemi, and Yoko Ogawa. Her fiction has been called “strange and seductive,” often drawing from elements of science fiction and fantasy. She writes frankly about sexuality, spinning queer identities into everything from ghost stories to fairytales. Her essays, short stories, and criticism have been published in The New Yorker, Granta, The Paris Review, Tin House, Lightspeed Magazine, Guernica, AGNI, National Public Radio, Gulf Coast, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Strange Horizons, and other publications.
Why watch? Machado’s debut short story collection earned international attention. Though she has an established career as a writer of criticism and essay, Machado’s success in fiction increases the likelihood of her publishing another fantastically successful collection. Her political and cultural commentary is always astute and thoughtful, making her an excellent voice to follow in tumultuous political times.