James Hannaham

I’m always aware that language can never quite say exactly what it needs to, it’s an imperfect delivery system for reality, essentially, and it conceals as much as it seems to reveal and can be used for all kinds of lying and half-truthing and obfuscation. Though I think those qualities can be horrible and fatal in real life, in literature they’re fun to mess around with.

Pen/faulkner award

Hurston Wright Legacy Award

Lambda Literary Award Finalist

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James Hannaham’s new novel is a tour de force. Gripping,
haunting, and deeply moving, it beguiles the reader with
the urgent immediacy of its characters’ lives, while also
reverberating with universal themes of freedom and
enslavement, love and survival.
— Jennifer Egan
Hannaham’s skill at portraying the worst of human experience while keeping you glued to the page—and totally taken with the characters—is nothing short of magic. The light he shines on the realities of racial injustice, human trafficking, drug abuse, and exploitation make a deep imprint on the reader. But as devastating as Darlene, Eddie, and the other laborers’ situations become, the heroic themes of love, forgiveness, and redemption carry this memorable story.
Publishers Weekly Starred Review

James Hannaham is the award-winning author of Delicious Foods (Little, Brown 2015), winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. It was selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program, the New York Times’s and Washington Post’s 100 Notable Books of 2015, and was a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize. His debut God Says No (McSweeney’s 2009), was honored by the American Library Association’s Stonewall Book Awards. He has published short stories in One Story, Fence, Story Quarterly, BOMB, and elsewhere. Hannaham was a contributor at the Village Voice beginning in 1992, and has been a staff writer at Salon. His criticism, essays, and profiles have appeared in Spin, Details, Us, Out, Buzzfeed, The New York Times Magazine, and 4Columns.

Discussing the use of humor in Delicious Foods, Hannaham explains his thinking about  the place of humor in literature, “It's always kind of bothered me that people think of serious literature as literature that doesn't make any jokes. Something about that seems fundamentally wrong to me. I'm interested in things that are funny and how they work and what people use humor for in our world. And one of the main things that people use humor for is just to get through really horrible things. In a certain sense, that's kind of what happened with this book."

 Hannaham is also an accomplished visual and performance artist.  He co-founded the performance group Elevator Repair Service and worked with them from 1992–2002. He has exhibited text-based visual art at The James Cohan Gallery, 490 Atlantic Gallery, Kimberley-Klark, and The Center for Emerging Visual Artists. He teaches in the Writing Program at the Pratt Institute.

He lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY.



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