Other Noted Northwestern Alumni Fiction Writers

Quite a few alumni who didn’t attend the undergraduate fiction program have also enjoyed literary success. Here’s a list of some of the standouts:

Robert Olen Butler (C67) graduated with a degree in theater and received a master’s in playwriting from the University of Iowa. He is author of 14 novels and six short story collections, including some innovative flash fiction, and won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (1992). Butler’s work is considered to be magical realism. (See "Yearning for Connection," fall 1999.)

Ivan Doig (J61, GJ62) earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism at Northwestern and a doctorate in American history at the University of Washington. His memoir of growing up in western Montana in a family of homesteaders and ranch hands, This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind (1977), was a finalist for the 1978 National Book Award. Many of Doig’s novels center around Montana, with themes of family life, memory and regional history. His newest release is Sweet Thunder (2013). (See "The Writing Life," fall 1999.)

Tananarive Due (J87) worked as a journalist and columnist for the Miami Herald after receiving her journalism degree. My Soul to Keep was named a “Best Novel of the Year” by Publishers Weekly in 1997 and is being made into a film directed by Blair Underwood. Due fuses the supernatural and horror with African American and African culture and history references. Her work has been nominated for awards by the Horror Writers Association. (See "Getting Her Due," fall 2001.)

Gillian Flynn (GJ97) is a former TV critic for Entertainment Weekly who earned a degree in journalism and became a mystery and crime writer. She wrote Sharp Objects (2006) and Dark Places (2009) and earned enormous acclaim for Gone Girl (2012), a thriller about a missing woman and a shattered marriage that has been made into a movie scheduled to be released in October. (See "Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl," spring 2013.)

Aleksandar Hemon(G96) is a Bosnian-American fiction writer, essayist and critic who writes about his native Bosnia-Herzegovina and his adopted city of Chicago. He won a MacArthur Foundation Award in 2004. His novel, The Lazarus Project, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. (See “Bosnian Writer Masters English as ‘Genius,’” spring 2005.)

Angela Jackson (WCAS77) is a novelist and poet who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and pursued a master’s in Latin and Caribbean studies from the University of Chicago. She won the 2009 American Book Award for Where I Must Go, a historical fiction novel about an African American college student in the late 1960s who attends an elite, predominately white college. (See “Full of Grace” winter 2009.)

George R.R. Martin (J70, GJ71) is an author of fantasy, horror and science fiction who earned undergraduate and graduate journalism degrees from Northwestern. His epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire was adapted by HBO for the Game of Thrones series. He worked on two TV series, The Twilight Zone (1986) and Beauty and the Beast (1987-1990), and has written 15 novels, 11 short story collections and children’s books, as well as several teleplays, pilots, screenplays and book adaptations. (See “In a Fantasy World of His Own,” winter 2009.)

Audrey Niffenegger (G91) is an artist and writer whose acclaimed first novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003), was made into a movie. She is now on the faculty of the fiction-writing department at Columbia College Chicago. In 2013 a major mid-career retrospective of Niffenegger’s prints, paintings and artist’s bookworks opened at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. (See “Stranger than Fiction,” winter 2005.) — E.B.B.