JOHN EDGAR WIDEMAN Biography - Writers


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John Edgar Wideman was born in Washington, DC., in 1941. Shortly before his                 
first birthday, his family moved to Homewood, an African-American community in               
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which has been the locale of much of his fiction. He               
attended Peabody High, one of Pittsburgh's best secondary schools, where he                 
excelled in his studies as well as in sports.                                               
He was awarded a Benjamin Franklin scholarship by the University of Pennsylvania,           
where he not only won a creative writing prize but also earned membership in Phi             
Beta Kappa. Matching his scholastic achievements with his athletic ones, he won             
All-Ivy League status as a forward on the basketball team and successfully                   
competed on the track team. In 1963, he graduated with a B.A. in English, and               
won a Rhodes scholarship to study philosophy at Oxford University's New College.             
Returning to the United States in 1966, Wideman spent a year as a Kent Fellow at             
the University of lowa's Writers' Workshop, where he completed his first novel,             
A Glance Away, published in 1967. His other novels include Two Cities, Hurry                 
Home, The Lynchers, Hiding Place, Sent for You Yesterday, Philadelphia Fire, and             
The Cattle Killing. He is the author of a memoir, Brothers and Keepers. His                 
short story collections are Damballah, Fever, The Stories of John Edgar Wideman,             
and All Stories Are True. Houghton Mifflin will reissue the short story                     
collection Damballah and the novel Hiding Place in September 1998 in the Mariner             
trade paperback series. Conversations with John Edgar Wideman -- 19 interviews               
spanning 3 decades-has recently been published by the University Press of                   
Wideman is the only writer to have been awarded the PEN/Faulkner Award for                   
Fiction twice-- once in 1984 for his novel Sent for You Yesterday and again in               
1990 for Philadelphia Fire. In 1998, Wideman won the Rea Award for the short                 
story, an award judged this year by Grace Paley, Tim O'Brien, and Gina Berriault             
(previous winners include John Cheever and Eudora Wefty). In 1990, he also                   
received the American Book Award for Fiction. He was awarded the Lannan Literary             
Fellowship for Fiction in 1991 and the MacArthur Award in 1993. Other honors                 
include the St. Botolph Literary Award (1993), the DuSable Museum Prize for                 
Nonfiction for Brothers and Keepers (1985), the Longwood College Medal for                   
Literary Excellence, and the National Magazine Editors' Prize for Short Fiction             
(1987). In 1996, he edited the annual anthology The BestAmerican Short Stories (Houghton     
Mifflin). He is currently at work on a collection of essays about race and                   
Wideman is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.               
His articles on Malcolm X, Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Michael Jordan, Emmett             
Till, Thelonius Monk, and women's professional basketball have appeared in The               
New Yorker, Vogue, Esquire, Emerge, and the New York Tlmes Magazine. His son Dan             
is a published writer. His daughter, Jamila, is a professional basketball player             
for the L.A. Sparks. Wideman lives in Amherst with his wife, Judy, a lawyer                 
specializing in death penalty cases.