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About Cris Mazza
In the first decade of the 21st century, Cris Mazza's work as a novelist expanded as she has continued to consider psychological and emotional complexities of contemporary life, but began to do so with the contributing complication of place: How regions or localities that still have their own unique characteristics of landscape, society, and culture impact the human experiences (sexuality, family, authority, gender) that Mazza explores in fiction. Her 9th book in 2001, Girl Beside Him, inhabits rural Wyoming. Homeland, (2004) involves a woman and her elderly father grappling with a 30-year-old family tragedy while they also find themselves homeless, living in the canyons of suburban Southern California alongside migrant agricultural workers. Indigenous / Growing Up Californian (2003), Mazza’s collection of personal essays, deals with place as it anchors memory and the reconstruction of experience. Waterbaby (2007) looks at how local 19th century legends still live and grow in a seacoast town in Maine. 2009’s Trickle-Down Timeline married time and place, returning to Southern California in the Reagan era 80s. Mazza’s forthcoming novel, Various Men Who Knew Us as Girls continues her unrelenting look at sexual anxiety, now expanding into the nearly unmapped world of outdoor sex slaves in Southern California, as a troubled woman trying to rescue one of them admits her horror has blended with envy.
In 1984 Cris Mazza's first novel (and 3rd book), How to Leave a Country, while still in manuscript won the PEN / Nelson Algren Award for book-length fiction. The judges included Studs Terkel and Grace Paley. Some of her other notable earlier titles include Disability and Is It Sexual Harassment Yet? which was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal.
A native of Southern California, Cris Mazza grew up in San Diego County. Her BA and MA were completed at San Diego State University, then she crossed the country to finish an MFA in writing at Brooklyn College before returning to San Diego where she lived several years training and showing her dogs, completing her first 4 books, and teaching at various local colleges and universities, including UC San Diego, and was Writer in Residence at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN, then at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. Currently she is professor and director of the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.