November 16, 2017
This year’s National Book Awards are complete, crowning the best new works of this year in a ceremony in New York Wednesday night.
Carmen Maria Machado, who lives in West Philly with her wife, was among the nominees for her debut fiction collection of short stories, Her Body And Other Parties. In addition to representing Philadelphia for the evening, Machado, age 31, was also the youngest contender of the year.
Machado, who was born in Allentown, moved to the city in 2013 and juggled lackluster day jobs (including at King of Prussia’s LUSH) after getting her Master’s of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is currently a Writer-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania.
Macado’s collection of stories focuses on themes of gender, sexuality, and queerness told through the story elements of sci-fi, horror, and plot-driven anti-fables. It even includes a lengthy reimagining of “Law & Order: SVU” that mingles humor with dark imagery; the story is available to read for free at the American Reader.
During the National Book Awards, which was emceed by Cynthia Nixon and featured an appearance from former President Bill Clinton, the 2017 award for fiction was awarded to Jesmyn Ward for Sing, Unburied, Sing.
Check out this clip of Machado backstage at the Free Library of Philadelphia last month, and click here for a full list of all the National Book Award nominees and winners.