Melissa Pritchard is the author of eleven books, including a biography and collection of essays, Melissa Pritchard’s first short story collection, Spirit Seizures, received the Flannery O’Connor Award, the Carl Sandburg Award, the James Phelan Award from the San Francisco Foundation and was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice and Notable Book of the Year.
Her second collection, The Instinct for Bliss, a New York Times Editor’s Choice, was awarded the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize from the University of Rochester and the Claudia Ortese Prize in North American Literature from the University of Florence, Florence, Italy; stories from that collection also won Pushcart and Best of the West Prizes.
An historical novel, Selene of the Spirits, received a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” Prize, and stories from a third collection, Disappearing Ingenue, won both Pushcart and O. Henry Prizes. Melissa’s satiric novel, Late Bloomer, was named a “Best Book of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.
A fourth collection, The Odditorium, praised by reviewers Carolyn Kellogg and Leslie Jamison, was named a San Francisco Chronicle “Best Book of the Year,” as well as an O, The Oprah Magazine’s Book of the Week A second historical novel, Palmerino, was a Lambda Literary “New and Noteworthy Book,” a Publisher’s Weekly “Big Indie Book,” a “Top Title” in O, The Oprah Magazine, and named by The American Library Association as a top title in its “Over the Rainbow” LGBT list.
The inaugural title in Bellevue Literary Press’s essay series, A Solemn Pleasure was named a “Best Books for Writers” by Poets and Writers, and a Publishers Weekly “Top Ten in Essays, Literary Biography and Criticism.” A Solemn Pleasure was praised by Lit Hub as a “Best Book about Books,” and in her review, Brain Pickings editor Maria Popova described the essays as “altogether magnificent…luminous and seriously pleasurable.” A Solemn Pleasure received a starred review from Library Journal and the essay collection was praised by Kirkus as “heartfelt…bear(s) powerful witness to suffering, compassion and transcendence.”
A five time winner of Pushcart and O.Henry Prizes and consistently cited in Best American Short Stories, Melissa has published both fiction and non-fiction in literary journals, anthologies, textbooks, magazines and online sites such as Byliner, Longform, Ulyces and Longreads. Her short stories have been performed by actors in WordTheatre venues in Los Angeles and New York City. Awarded fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Howard Foundation, the Ledig-Rowohlt Foundation, the Hawthornden and Bogliasco Foundations, she has published in over seventy journals, including The Paris Review, Ploughshares, A Public Space, Conjunctions, Agni, Ecotone and The Gettysburg Review, as well as in O, The Oprah Magazine, the Wilson Center’s Wilson Quarterly, Arrive, The Nation, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. A Katherine Schneider Journalism Award finalist, her work was recognized in the Atlantic Monthly’s 2013 Best of Journalism Awards, and as a journalist, she has traveled to Afghanistan, India, Ecuador and Ethiopia. In 2009, she established the Ashton Goodman Fund, working with the Afghan Women’s Writing Project to provide funding for the literacy and education of Afghan women and girls.
Emeritus Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Arizona State University (1992-2016,) where she received awards for her teaching and service, Melissa was most recently named the 2016 Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellow at the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians in Columbus, Georgia, where she now lives and writes.