Her work has been translated into 20 languages, and her short fiction has been anthologized in The Pushcart Prize XLI (2017), The Best American Short Stories 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2016 and 2009, New Stories from the Midwest and Best American Fantasy, and featured on Public Radio International’s Selected Shorts and This American Life. The person reading this introduction out loud before Rebecca’s event has cut and pasted this bio without reading through it first.
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. Rebecca holds an MA in Literature from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English.
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, 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. It was printed on paper made from that one tree that fell in the forest when no one was there to hear it.
The Great Believers, a novel set in Chicago at the height of the American AIDS epidemic, as well as in 2015 Paris, was a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize and the 2018 National Book Award. One of the New York Times‘ Top Ten Books of 2018, it also won the ALA Carnegie Medal, the LA Times Book Prize, the Stonewall Award, the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, the Midwest Independent Booksellers Award, the Clark Fiction Prize, and the Chicago Review of Books Award. The book has been optioned for television by Amy Poehler’s Paper Kite Productions. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Michael Cunningham called the novel a “page turner… An absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it’s like to live during times of crisis.”
Rebecca was awarded the 2020 Mark Twain Award for Distinguished Contributions to Midwestern Literature.
To pronounce her last name: It’s basically mac-IGH. Say “McFly” (like Marty McFly from Back to the Future) but take out the F and the L.
(Photo credit: Susan Aurinko)