Victor LaValle received his MFA in fiction from Columbia University in 1998. Since then, he has led fiction workshops and taught literature classes at his alma mater as well as Mills College, where he served as Distinguished Visiting Writer from 2003 to 2005. LaValle’s work reflects his urban experiences as a black man growing up in a working-class neighborhood. He has published two books, Slapboxing with Jesus: Stories and The Ecstatic, and has contributed essays to periodicals such as Nerve Magazine, the Fader,Essence Magazine, and GQ. His stories have been included in many anthologies, including Step into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature, Sometimes Rhythm, Sometimes Blues, and Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology. Among numerous awards, he has received the Breadloaf Writer’s Fellowship, PEN/Open Book Beyond Margins Award, and Whiting Writer’s Award, and has been a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award and PEN/Faulkner Award.