John Wray, whose mother is Austrian and whose father is Californian, was born in Washington, D.C., where his parents, both scientists, were employed by the National Institute of Health. He grew up in Buffalo, New York, and in Friesach, a small town in the southern Austrian province of Carinthia. When he was a boy, his mother began reading Penguin Classics at a rate of exactly one per week, as a way to improve her English: one of his fondest memories of childhood is of having the entirety of The Pickwick Papers read to him at far too young an age, and understanding next to nothing, but loving the sound and mood of it regardless.
In the hope of following his parents into science, Wray majored in biology at Oberlin College, intending to become an ornithologist; in the end, he had to content himself with becoming a birdwatcher. After graduating from college, he worked in Petersburg, Alaska, as a cab driver; in Austin, Texas, as a groundskeeper; and in Manhattan, as tutor in German and Spanish. He dropped out of graduate school twice: first from New York Universitys M.F.A. program in poetry, where he won an Academy of American Poets Prize, and then, a few years later, from Columbias fiction program. In between, he played guitar, bass, and drums, respectively, in the bands Marmalade, The King of France, and The Naysayer. In 2002, he spent a year in South America, climbing the Andean peaks Cerro Cuerno, Aconcagua, Antisana, El Altar, and Chimborazo, for a book on mountaineering that never got written.
Wrays first novel, The Right Hand of Sleep, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and won a Whiting Award in Fiction. For his second novel, Canaans Tongue, he traveled down the Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans on a raft made out of Home Depot surplus, giving readings in towns along the way. This past year, Granta magazine selected him as one of the best American novelists under the age of thirty-five. For the last seven years, Wray has lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn, across the street from the Prospect Park Bandshell. He has no intention of moving.
This biography was last updated on 02/13/2012.
A note about the biographies
We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate. However, with over 2500 lives to keep track of it's inevitable that some won't be as current or as complete as we would like. So, please help us - if the information about a particular author is out of date, inaccurate or simply very short, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and those connected with authors: If you wish to make changes to your bio, please send your complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we can replace the old with the new.
Zach Galifianakis interviews John Wray about Lowboy
An interview with John Wray about LowboyHow does this differ from your earlier work?
50 Copies to Give Away!
The 100 Year Miracle is a rich, enthralling novel, full of great characters.
Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.
Your guide toexceptional books
BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.