Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Eula Biss  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction Other

Born: 1977 in Rochester, New York

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Illinois Connection

Eula teaches at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

After earning a bachelor's degree in non-fiction writing from Hampshire College, Biss moved to New York City. She taught in public schools where her experiences profoundly influenced her writing. In 2003, she moved to Iowa City, where she went on to complete her MFA in the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program. Today she teaches writing at Northwestern, and her essays have appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, The Best Creative Nonfiction and the Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Nonfiction as well as in The Believer, Gulf Coast, Columbia, Ninth Letter, the North American Review, the Bellingham Review, the Seneca Review, and Harper's.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays
ISBN: 1555975186

Graywolf Press. 2009

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism
Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize

A frank and fascinating exploration of race and racial identity

Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays begins with a series of lynchings and ends with a series of apologies. Eula Biss explores race in America and her response to the topic is informed by the experiences chronicled in these essays -- teaching in a Harlem school on the morning of 9/11, reporting for an African American newspaper in San Diego, watching the aftermath of Katrina from a college town in Iowa, and settling in Chicago's most diverse neighborhood.

As Biss moves across the country from New York to California to the Midwest, her essays move across time from biblical Babylon to the freedman's schools of Reconstruction to a Jim Crow mining town to post-war white flight. She brings an eclectic education to the page, drawing variously on the Eagles, Laura Ingalls Wilder, James Baldwin, Alexander Graham Bell, Joan Didion, religious pamphlets, and reality television shows.

These spare, sometimes lyric essays explore the legacy of race in America, artfully revealing in intimate detail how families, schools, and neighborhoods participate in preserving racial privilege. Faced with a disturbing past and an unsettling present, Biss still remains hopeful about the possibilities of American diversity, "not the sun-shininess of it, or the quota-making politics of it, but the real complexity of it."


Awards

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Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, Notes from No Man's Land