LaShonda Katrice Barnett was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1974, and grew up in Park Forest, Illinois. She is the author of the debut novel Jam on the Vine (Grove 2015; paperback 2/2016) and a story collection (1999). Designated a Stonewall Honor Award by the American Library Association (2016), Jam won ElIe Magazine's Belle Lettres 2015 Reader's Prize and earned Barnett the Emerging Writers Award at the 2015 Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. The novel was shortlisted for the Crook's Corner Book Prize and is a 2016 Lambda Literary Award finalist.
The Chicago Tribune's Editor's Choice review said of Jam on the Vine: “The spirit of Ida B. Wells, journalist and civil rights activist, inhabits [Jam on the Vine], and the conflicts of that era, like the 1919 race riots, seem eerily resonant today, especially in a post- Ferguson, Mo., world.” O, the Oprah Magazine's review included: “...In an authentic and richly layered novel, history comes to life...Barnett creates an ode to activism, writing with a scholar's eye and a poet's soul.” Of the novel's heroine, the Wall Street Journal wrote: “Ivoe is a splendid character, mouthy, determined, crusading and irrepressibly cheerful.” The historical novel society compared the novel’s language to “Toni Morrison’s exquisite choice of diction,” and concluded: This phenomenal historical novel is a classic work about the journalistic battle against racism and the celebration of life and love.”
Barnett has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and the College Language Association. She has held residences at the Noepe Center for Literary Arts-Martha’s Vineyard, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, where she was a Tennessee Williams Fellow, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.
Barnett's short fiction has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Guernica Magazine, New Orleans Review, SN Review, Juked, C4: Chamber Quarterly Literary Review, Gemini Magazine and elsewhere. She was twice-nominated for the 2015 Pushcart prize. The Appropriate Ones, her trilogy of full-length plays (Homewood; Menemsha; and L'Echange), explores race within one interracial American family.
A lover and scholar of music of the African diaspora and an avid interviewer, Barnett has conducted over one hundred interviews with women musicians and edited the volumes, I GOT THUNDER: Black Women Songwriters On Their Craft (2007) and OFF THE RECORD: Conversations With African American & Brazilian Women Musicians, (2015). She has hosted her own jazz radio program on WBAI (99.5 FM, NYC); taught 'Women in Jazz' at New York City's Jazz at Lincoln Center; and lectured on the music nationally and in Austria, Brazil, France, Germany and South Africa. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Sarah Lawrence College and the College of William and Mary, where she received a B.A.; M.A. in Women's History and the Ph.D. in American Studies, respectively; she has taught history and literature at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, Hunter College and Brown University. She is visiting professor at Northwestern University, where she'll teach full time in the African American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies departments.
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