Jane Smiley


Photo by Jack Canning

Jane Smiley was born in Los Angeles, but moved to the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri soon afterward, where she lived until she left for Vassar College. From New York, she went to Europe for a year, then headed for Iowa and an MFA in Fiction from the Writers’ Workshop  in 1976.

An interest in dead languages (including classes in Old Norse, Old and Middle English, Old Irish, Gothic, and Old High German) led her to Iceland on a Fulbright for a year to learn Modern Icelandic and devise a dissertation topic involving Old Norse, but  this was never completed—she turned in a creative dissertation for her PhD.

While in Iceland, she heard about the Medieval Norse colony on the  southern tip of Greenland, and the eventual result was her novel, The Greenlanders.

After Iowa, she taught at Iowa State University in Ames until 1996, when she quit to write full-time. Thrice married, she is the mother of two daughters and a son, and lives in northern California, where she owns too many horses, but she has inserted them as characters in many of her novels, so they have proved useful in more ways than one.

Jane has received numerous literary awards and honors, including an O. Henry Award for her short story “Lily” in 1985, a Pulitzer and a National Book Critic’s Circle Award in 1992 for A Thousand Acres, and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001. Horse Heaven was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2001.

Jane’s essays and articles have appeared in anthologies, “Harper’s Magazine,” “Salon,” “Redbook,” “Vogue,” “The New Yorker,” “Mirabella,” “Allure,” “The
Nation,” and many others.


Golden Age (Knopf, 2015)

Early Warning (Knopf, 2015)

Some Luck (Knopf, 2014)

Gee Whiz (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013)

Pie in the Sky (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012)

True Blue (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2011)

The Man Who Invented the Computer (Doubleday, 2010)

A Good Horse (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010)

Private Life (Knopf, 2010)

The Georges and the Jewels (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010)

Ten Days in the Hills (Knopf, 2007)

Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel (Knopf, 2005)

A Year at the Races: Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money and Luck (Knopf, 2004)

Good Faith (Knopf, 2003)

Charles Dickens (Viking, 2003)

Horse Heaven (Knopf, 2000)

The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton (Knopf, 1998)

Moo (Knopf, 1995)

A Thousand Acres (Knopf, 1991) (won Pulitzer Prize in 1992)

Ordinary Love and Good Will (two novellas) (Knopf, 1989)

The Greenlanders (Knopf, 1988)

The Age of Grief: A Novella and Stories (Knopf, 1987)

Duplicate Keys (Knopf, 1984)

At Paradise Gate (Free Press, 1981)

Barn Blind (Harper & Row, 1980)

Find out more about Jane