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Meet the Judges — Mary Kay Zuravleff

photo of judge John Lane

Mary Kay Zuravleff is the author of two novels and numerous short stories. Her first novel, The Frequency of Souls, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1997. That book won the James Jones First Novel Award and the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Chicago Tribune called the book, “A funny and wholly original love story that weds the everyday to the supernatural and the mystical to the mundane.” Another reader dubbed it “the best short comic novel ever written about refrigerator designers with psychic powers.”

The Bowl Is Already Broken, her second novel, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2005. A love letter to museums, warts and all, that book opens with a precious Chinese bowl tumbling down the marble steps of the Museum of Asian Art in Washington, D.C. The New York Times deemed the book “a tart, affectionate satire of the museum world’s bickering and scheming.” The London Independent wrote, “Promise Whittaker, a woman so diminutive that a resentful colleague describes her as little more than a knick-knack, is the magnificent heroine of this highly original, extremely funny and surprisingly moving novel.”

Mary Kay’s short fiction has appeared in literary and mainstream magazines, as well as the anthologies Grace and Gravity and Other Voices.

Mary Kay Zuravleff was born in 1960 and grew up in Oklahoma City. She received a BA from Rice University in mathematics and literature and an MA in creative writing from the Johns Hopkins University. She has enjoyed a number of jobs, from teaching calculus to leading writing workshops at Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, Goucher College, and George Mason University (where, along with a class of graduate students, she wrote a novel in one semester). She has been the recipient of numerous grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, including a 2008 Artist Fellowship. She serves on the board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and currently lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children.