Jonathan Escoffery’s family emigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica to escape the political violence that transformed the island in the 1970s. He was raised in Miami, where he attended FIU and earned his B.A. in English Literature. While attending high school and college, Jonathan worked as a janitor, a dishwasher, a server, a loader in two separate warehouses, a licensed forklift operator, an unlicensed physical therapist, a (failed) life insurance salesman, a leasing agent for a low-income elderly housing community, and a night auditor on a private island for the rich and sometimes famous, sometimes infamous.
Jonathan is the author of If I Survive You, a collection of humorous and harrowing linked stories following a Jamaican-American family as they seek stability upon moving to Miami, navigating cultural dislocation, tenuous family ties, and the many, conflicting meanings of Black American identity, forthcoming fall 2022 from MCD/ FSG, as well as the forthcoming novel, Play Stone Kill Bird. Both books will be published in the UK and Commonwealth by 4th Estate Books, and in Canada by McClelland and Stewart, and will be published in translation in France by Albin Michel, and in Germany by Piper.
Jonathan is the winner of The Paris Review’s 2020 Plimpton Prize for Fiction and is the recipient of a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts (Prose) Literature Fellowship. His story “Under the Ackee Tree” was among the trio that won the Paris Review the 2020 ASME Award for Fiction from the American Society of Magazine Editors, and was subsequently included in The Best American Magazine Writing 2020.
Jonathan has taught creative writing and seminars on the writer’s life at the University of Minnesota, Writers in Progress, and at GrubStreet in Boston, where, as former staff, he founded the Boston Writers of Color Group, which currently has more than 2,000 members. He has received support and honors from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, Aspen Words, Kimbilio Fiction, the Anderson Center, and elsewhere. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s Creative Writing MFA Program (Fiction), where he was a DOVE fellow and a fellow in the Community of Scholars program. He is a 2021-2023 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and attends the University of Southern California’s Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature Program as a Provost Fellow.
Follow Jonathan on twitter @J_Escoffery