Allan Gurganus

Photo by Eric Olsen

Allan Gurganus was born the son of a schoolteacher and a businessman in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. He first trained as a painter, studying at the University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; he has illustrated three limited editions of his fiction.

During a three-year stint onboard the USS Yorktown during the Vietnam War, he turned to writing. He earned a BA from Sarah Lawrence where he worked with Grace Paley. In 1975, he received an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where his mentors  were John Cheever and Stanley Elkin.

Allan’s stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic  MonthlyThe Paris Review, The New York Times, and other publications. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and his short  fiction has been honored by the O’Henry Prize Stories, Best American Stories, The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, and Best New  Stories of the South.

His fiction has been translated into sixteen languages. Adaptations have appeared on Broadway and won four Emmy awards. He has taught writing and literature at Stanford, Duke, and Sarah Lawrence, and has returned to teach at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1989 and 2010.


The Practical Heart: Four Novellas (Knopf, 2001), Lambda Literary Award

Plays Well With Others (Knopf, 1997)

White People (Knopf, 1990), Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Pen-Faulkner finalist

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (Knopf, 1989), American Academy of Arts and Letters Sue Kaufman Prize for Best Work of First Fiction

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