John Keene received an A.B. (1987) from Harvard University and an M.F.A. (1997) from New York University. Before joining the faculty at Rutgers University-Newark, where he is currently professor and chair of the Department of African American and African Studies and a professor in the Department of English, he taught at Brown University and Northwestern University, among other institutions. He was a member of the Dark Room Collective and is a graduate fellow of Cave Canem. In addition to his novels, he has published two collaborative volumes of poetry, Seismosis (2006) and GRIND (2016), a chapbook of poems, Playland (2016), and translated Brazilian author Hilda Hilst’s novel Letters from a Seducer. His writing has appeared in TriQuarterly, the Kenyon Review, and Ploughshares, among other journals.
In 2018, Keene was awarded a MacArthur fellowship; the prize citation noted that he “is a fiction writer exploring the ways in which historical narratives shape contemporary lives while simultaneously re-envisioning these narratives from the perspectives of those whose voices have been suppressed. Through innovations in language and form, he imbues with multifaceted subjectivities those who have been denied nuanced histories within the story of the Americas—primarily people of color and queer people—and exposes the social structures that confine, enslave, or destroy them.”