I was born in Lewiston, Idaho, in 1958, and one week later returned with my mother to our small line-shack on Orofino Creek, where my father worked as a logger. The majority of my childhood was spent in the isolated settlements and cedar camps along the North Fork of Idaho’s Clearwater River. I was the first member of my family to attend college and hold a BA in English from Lewis-Clark State College, an MA from Washington State University, and an MFA from the University of Montana. In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country, my first memoir, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, received a PEN/Jerard Fund Award, and was awarded a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award. My second memoir, Hungry for the World, was a Borders Books New Voices Selection. I am the author of two novels: Finding Caruso and, most recently, A Country Called Home, winner of the 2009 PEN Center USA Literary Award in Fiction, a Book-of-the-Month-Club Main Selection, and named a Best Book of 2008 by The Washington Post, Kansas City Star, and The Oregonian (Northwest).
I also have co-edited two anthologies: Circle of Women: An Anthology of Contemporary Western Women Writers (with Mary Clearman Blew), and Kiss Tomorrow Hello: Notes from the Midlife Underground by Twenty-Five Women Over Forty (with Claire Davis). My essays, poems, and stories have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including The New York Times, The Georgia Review, Shenandoah, Good Housekeeping, O! Magazine, MORE Magazine, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. My third novel, set in 1960s Saudi Arabia, is forthcoming from Knopf in 2012. I am a former Idaho-Writer-in-Residence and teach at the University of Idaho. I live with my husband, the poet Robert Wrigley, on Moscow Mountain.
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