My novel The True Sources of the Nile (Doubleday/Anchor) has been taught in courses on literature, ethics, and the rhetoric of human rights. It was a BookSense 76 selection, has been translated into German and Dutch, and was included in Geoff Wisner’s A Basket of Leaves: 99 Books That Capture the Spirit of Africa. I'm the co-author, with my spouse and writing partner Ron Nyren, of the textbook Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers (trade version: The Longman Guide to Intermediate and Advanced Fiction Writing). My stories and essays have appeared in Ploughshares; StoryQuarterly; The Believer; The Millions; The Writer’s Chronicle; Dedicated to the People of Darfur: Writings on Fear, Risk, and Hope; and A Kite in the Wind: Fiction Writers on Their Craft, among other places.
I've been awarded fellowships from the University of Michigan, where I received my MFA, and the Bread Loaf and Sewanee writers' conferences. Earlier in my life, I worked as a psychiatric aide in a locked facility, a graveyard-shift waitress in the restaurant where everyone went after they'd been thrown out of all the bars in town, and an office worker in an apparently haunted massage/bodywork school in the Santa Cruz mountains. I've also written for Korean public television, reported on human rights in Burundi, and looked after orphan chimpanzees at the Jane Goodall Institute. Now I teach creative writing for Stanford University and the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.