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 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 (January, 2021).
Jonathan has received awards, fellowships, and honors from Aspen Words, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, Prairie Schooner, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Kimbilio Fiction and elsewhere. His story, “In Flux,” was selected by author Tiphanie Yanique to win Passages North’s Waasnode Fiction Prize and was subsequently cited as a Distinguished Story in The Best American Short Stories 2018. About Jonathan’s linked story collection, author Jennine Capó Crucet wrote, “There’s an urgency to each piece that says ‘Hello, I am a true force.’”
His most recent stories have appeared in The Paris Review, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, ZYZZYVA and American Short Fiction. His recent nonfiction has appeared in The Paris Review Daily and Creative Nonfiction.
Jonathan 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 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 1,200 members. He 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
[Cover photo credit: E.B. Bartels]