Jonathan Escoffery

Fiction Writer

Los Angeles, CA

Author's Bio

Jonathan Escoffery’s family emigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica to escape the political violence that transformed the island in the 1970’s. He was raised in Miami, where he attended FIU and earned his B.A. in English Literature. While attending high school and college, Jonathan worked as a janitor, a dishwasher, a server, a loader in two separate warehouses, a licensed forklift operator, an unlicensed physical therapist, a (failed) life insurance salesman, a leasing agent for a low-income elderly housing community, and a night auditor on a private island for the rich and sometimes famous, sometimes infamous.

Jonathan is the recipient of the 2020 Plimpton Prize for Fiction, a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts (Prose) Literature Fellowship, a 2020 Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico grant, and a 2019 Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellowship. His story “Under the Ackee Tree” was among the trio that won The Paris Review the 2020 National Magazine Award for Fiction from the American Society of Magazine Editors.

Jonathan has received awards, fellowships, and honors from Prairie Schooner, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Writers’ Room of Boston, the Somerville Arts Council, the Anderson Center, Wellspring House, Kimbilio Fiction and elsewhere. His story, “In Flux,” was selected by author Tiphanie Yanique to win Passages North’s Waasnode Fiction Prize and was subsequently cited as a Distinguished Story in The Best American Short Stories 2018. About Jonathan’s novel in stories, author Jennine Capó Crucet wrote, “There’s an urgency to each piece that says ‘Hello, I am a true force.’”

His most recent stories have appeared in The Paris ReviewAGNI, and Pleiades, with his recent nonfiction appearing in The Paris Review Daily and Creative Nonfiction.

Jonathan is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s Creative Writing MFA Program (Fiction), where he was a DOVE fellow and a fellow in the Community of Scholars program. He has taught classes in poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction at the University of Minnesota and at GrubStreet in Boston, where he is an instructor and writing consultant. He currently attends the University of Southern California’s Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature Program as a Provost Fellow.

Publications & Prizes

Prizes won: 
  • 2020 Plimpton Prize for Fiction, The Paris Review, for “Under the Ackee Tree.”
  • 2020 National Endowment for the Arts (Prose) Literature Fellowship.
  • 2020 ASME National Magazine Award for Fiction, The Paris Review, for “Under the Ackee Tree.”
  • 2020 Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico Residency Grant.
  • 2019 Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellowship.
  • 2018 Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, for “Chasing Carlos.”
  • 2018 Literary Death Match Winner. Boston. Ep. 16.
  • 2017-2018 Wellspring House Fellowship.
  • 2017 Kimbilio Fiction Fellowship.
  • 2017 Ivan Gold Fellowship (The Writers’ Room of Boston).
  • 2017 Somerville Arts Council Artist Fellowship.
  • 2016 Waasnode Fiction Prize Winner, Passages North, for “In Flux.”
  • 2016 Editor’s Choice, Solstice Summer Contest.

More Information

Gives readings: 
Travels for readings: 
Identifies as: 
African American, Jamaican American
Prefers to work with: 
Fluent in: 
Raised in: 
Miami, FL
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Last update: Mar 06, 2020