V. V. Ganeshananthan Joins Creative Writing Faculty
“I'm lucky to have found a home,” says new Creative Writing assistant professor V. V. Ganeshananthan, “with a strong creative writing program that encourages conversation between genres, and is engaged with topics like human rights.”
As Ganeshananthan knows, and every new graduate student in the Creative Writing Program soon learns, the required course EngW 8101 Reading Across Genres also means writing across genres, which must be followed by a workshop or topics course outside of one’s primary genre. Of course, writers of any stripe may apply for the Program’s Scribe for Human Rights Fellowship, which provides support for an MFA student to design and undertake a short writing project related to human rights.
Ganeshananthan herself regularly tacks between genres. She is the author of Love Marriage (2008), a novel set in Sri Lanka and some of its diaspora communities. But she is also a journalist and a former vice president of the South Asian Journalists Association. Her fiction, essays, reviews, and media criticism have appeared in Granta, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, Ploughshares, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014, among others.
Ganeshananthan was raised in Maryland. “I think it shaped my interest in writing and politics,” she reports. “I grew up reading The Washington Post, and I miss seeing it in print. It was one of my first and best writing teachers.”
After graduating from Harvard College, where she was an editor at The Harvard Crimson, Ganeshananthan attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She then earned an MA at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in arts and culture journalism as a Bollinger Fellow.
In 2014, she concluded a five-year stint as the Delbanco Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard in 2014 allowed her to continue work on a second novel.
Hippocrates is the title of the novel-in-progress. “The description changes frequently,” she acknowledges, “but broadly speaking, at this particular moment, it's about the ethics of martyrdom, teaching, and activism during wartime.
“I've worked on it off and on for about a decade; I started it as a graduate student at the University of Iowa, shortly after a trip I made to Sri Lanka, which is the focus of much of my work in both fiction and non-fiction.”
Ganeshananthan is a founding member of Lanka Solidarity, and a member of the board of directors of the American Institute for Lankan Studies.
Regents Professor and nonfiction writer Patricia Hampl collaborated with the Human Rights Program’s Barbara Frey to establish the Scribe for Human Rights Fellowship in 2006. The two programs also co-hosted the 2011 international symposium “My Letter to the World: Narrating Human Rights.”
“I'm thrilled to be joining the department at the University of Minnesota,” concludes Ganeshananthan, “where the faculty and students seem exceptionally inventive and generous.”
The Department of English and the Creative Writing Program are delighted to welcome her!