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Souvankham Thammavongsa

The Department of English is pleased to announce the Carol Shields Writer in Residence for 2021: Souvankham Thammavongsa

Souvankham Thammavongsa's fiction has appeared in Harper's, Granta, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Best American Non-Required Reading, The Journey Prize Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. Her debut book of fiction, How to Pronounce Knife, is the winner of the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, a New York Times Editors' Choice, and one of Time's Must-Read Books of 2020. The title story was a finalist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Thammavongsa is also the author of four acclaimed poetry books: Light, winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry; Found; Small Arguments, winner of the ReLit Award; and, most recently, Cluster. Born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand, she was raised and educated in Toronto, where she is at work on her first novel.
Souvankham tells the UW: “I believe it will be a dramatic creative period of intensified writing. I am also honoured to join the list of writers who have held this residency, to be listed among them. Above all, the proximity to the writer after whom this residency is named is an absolute distinction. I am excited to meet students and members in the community. I know their generosity and openness and care will be encouraging and inspiring.”

On Wednesday, February 24, Souvankham delivered the annual Carol Shields Distinguished Lecture on the topic of "What Is a Writer?" You can watch the lecture, along with a conversation with English Department member Dr. Sandy Pool, here:

Author photo by Sarah Bodri