Victor LaValle

Novelist, Author

1972 –

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Who is Victor LaValle?

Victor LaValle is an American author who was raised in the Flushing and Rosedale neighborhoods of Queens, New York. He is the author of a short-story collection, Slapboxing with Jesus and three novels, The Ecstatic, Big Machine and The Devil in Silver. LaValle writes fiction primarily, though he has also written essays and book reviews for GQ, Essence Magazine, The Fader, and The Washington Post, among others.

Slapboxing with Jesus was published in 1999 by Vintage Books. The eleven interconnected stories deal mostly with the lives of young black and Latino men living in New York in the 1970s and 1980s. The collection went on to receive wide critical praise. It won the author a PEN Open Book Award and the Key to Jamaica, Queens.

The Ecstatic was published in 2002 by Crown Publishing Group. The novel continues the story of Anthony James, a character from LaValle's collection of stories. Anthony is a morbidly obese college dropout who may also be experiencing the first signs of schizophrenia. The novel follows the exploits of his family, who are trying their best to save Anthony, but who might be in need of a little saving themselves. The subject matter is dark, and even shocking, but a gallows humor runs throughout. This book received even wider critical acclaim, earning comparisons to writers such as Ken Kesey, Chester Himes, and John Kennedy Toole. In 2003 the novel was a finalist for both the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award.

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Feb 3, 1972
New York City
  • African American
  • United States of America
  • Cornell University
  • Columbia University

on July 23, 2013


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