Mary Kay Zuravleff is the award-winning author of American Ending, inspired by both her grandmothers and her coal-mining grandfathers. Her third novel, Man Alive!, a Washington Post Notable Book, was praised by People magazine for its "impressive intelligence and sly humor," and the New York Times called her second, The Bowl Is Already Broken, "a tart, affectionate satire of the museum world's bickering and scheming." She is the recipient of the American Academy of Art's Rosenthal Award, the James Jones First Novel Award, and multiple Artist Fellowships from the DC Commission on the Arts.
She has taught writing at American University, the Chautauqua Institution, Johns Hopkins and George Mason Universities, and she has written and edited extensively for the Smithsonian. Her essays and short stories have appeared in such venues as The Daily Beast, American Short Fiction, The Atlantic, Los Angeles Review of Books, This Is What America Looks Like, and Why I Like This Story. She was born in Syracuse, New York, raised in Oklahoma City, educated in Houston and Baltimore, and has made Washington, DC, her home.
American Ending, a heartrending novel told with grit and humor, was named to Oprah's Spring Reading List! Mary Kay Zuravleff's captivating tale weaves Russian fairy tales and fables into a family saga set in the coal mines of Appalachia. The challenges facing immigrants—and the fragility of citizenship—are just as unsettling and surprising today as they were one hundred years ago. Read the interview in The Washington Post, and there is plenty more info here.
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"An exhilarating tale about what this country promises and withholds. Mary Kay Zuravleff has given us a vivid portrait of an immigrant community and the wry, richly colored, and darkly enchanting stories it tells itself to survive."
—Margaret Talbot, staff writer at The New Yorker
"How I loved spending time with Yelena in her vivid, terrible and—most astonishingly—joyous time and place. Mary Kay Zuravleff's novel manages to capture all the struggle and the grief endured by this particular, unsung set of immigrants without ever veering into caricature or melodrama. Wholly fresh and achingly believable. Oh, and the food! Gorgeous."
—Alice McDermott, author of The Ninth Hour and Charming Billy
"Immersive and compelling. In the dark of Pennsylvania's coal mines, Yelena's voice is both the light and the canary. Her struggles, and those of her Russian-American immigrant community, are deeply felt and beautifully written."
—Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
MKZ details how "My Grandparents' Immigration Woes Were Tragically Like Today's" in The Daily Beast.
A newspaper dress bought in the subway is perfect for a New Yorker party in "The Talk of the Town."
Every slice of the novel is the novel in MKZ's essay "The DNA of the Novel."
MKZ explains "How to Make Your Book a Bestseller" in The Atlantic.
Lisa Gornick and MKZ discuss how their novels revolve around psychiatrists.
MKZ discovers that E. L. Konigsburg was her muse.