Rebecca Makkai’s first story, at the age of three, was printed on the side of a cardboard box and told from the viewpoint of her stuffed Smurf doll. Sadly, her fiction has never since reached such heights of experimentalism.
Rebecca was born in 1978 and holds an MA from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English and a BA from Washington and Lee University. Her short fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009, New Stories from the Midwest and Best American Fantasy, and featured on Public Radio International’s Selected Shorts and This American Life. New stories and essays appear regularly in places like Harper’s, Tin House, the Wall Street Journal, and New England Review. She has held fellowships at Yaddo and the Sewanee and Wesleyan Writers Conferences. In 2014, she received an NEA literature fellowship in fiction.
Rebecca has two young daughters. She does not run marathons or do cartwheels, but she does know how to make marshmallows. She was an elementary Montessori teacher for the twelve years before the publication of her first book.
Her first novel, The Borrower, was a Booklist Top Ten Debut, an Indie Next pick, and an O Magazine selection.
Her second novel, The Hundred-Year House, which appeared in July 0f 2014, is the story of a haunted house and a haunted family, told in reverse; Library Journal called it “stunning, ambitious, readable and intriguing.” It was chosen as the Chicago Writers Association’s novel of the year, and received raves in The New York Times Book Review and elsewhere.
Her short story collection, Music for Wartime, appeared in July, 2015 and will be available in paperback in June of 2016.
She teaches at Lake Forest College, in Northwestern University‘s and Sierra Nevada College‘s MFA programs, and runs StoryStudio Chicago‘s Novel-in-a-Year workshop. In the fall of 2015, she was visiting faculty at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 2016, she will be on the faculty of the Tin House and Seaside Writers Conferences.
To pronounce her last name: It’s basically mac-EYE. More like mah-KAH-ee, though. But don’t pronounce the H’s. It kind of rhymes with Hawaii, but not if you’re the kind of person who puts that glottal stop before the I’s. It’s actually not that hard. It’s just hard to explain. Pretend it’s a Japanese name, even though it’s not, and you’ll probably get it right. Best bet: listen to Rebecca explain it herself.
(Photo credit: Phillipe Matsas, at Opale. Please do not use without permission.)