Madison Smartt Bell

Professor of English; Co-Director, Kratz Center for Creative Writing

Madison Smartt Bell is a professor of English at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the author of 22 books, including three collections of short stories, two biographies, 15 novels, and the fiction writing textbook Narrative Design. His books have been prominently published in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Denmark, Holland, Brazil and Japan. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories and the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, among others. As an active literary journalist he contributes to The New York Times, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, and The Boston Globe, among others. He has taught fiction writing at the Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the Writing Seminars of Johns Hopkins University, and at Goucher College since 1984.

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Research, Scholarship, Creative Work in Progress

My novel Behind the Moon is forthcoming from City Lights in May 2017.  My novel The Witch of Matongé is complete and in submission.  I am working on a biography of the novelist Robert Stone under contract with Doubleday and editing a collection of Stone’s nonfiction under contract with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


The Washington Square Ensemble (novel) Viking Press, 1983; Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series, 1984

Waiting For The End Of The World (novel) Ticknor & Fields, 1985; Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series, 1986

Straight Cut (novel) Ticknor & Fields, 1986; Penguin mass-market paperback, 1987; Hard Case Crime Series paper back, 2006

Zero db (short fiction) Ticknor & Fields, 1987; Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series, 1988

The Year Of Silence (novel) Ticknor & Fields, 1987; Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series, 1989

Soldier's Joy (novel) Ticknor & Fields, 1989; Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series, 1990

Barking Man (short fiction) Ticknor & Fields, 1990; Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series, 1991; Quality Paperback Club, 1991

Doctor Sleep (novel) Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991; Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series, 1992; Grove Press (paperback, 2003)

Save Me, Joe Louis (novel) Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993; Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series, 1994

All Souls' Rising (novel) Pantheon, 1995; Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series, 1996; Vintage Contemporaries, 2004

Ten Indians (novel) Pantheon, 1996; Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series, 1997

Narrative Design: A Writer's Guide to Structure (textbook), W.W. Norton, 1997.

Narrative Design: Working with Imagination, Craft, and Form (trade paperback edition)  Norton, 2000

Master of the Crossroads (novel), Pantheon, 2000; Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series, 2001; Vintage Contemporaries, 2004

Anything Goes (novel), Pantheon, June 2002

The Stone that the Builder Refused (novel), Pantheon, 2004; Vintage Contemporaries,  2006

Lavoisier in the Year One: The Birth of A New Science in an Age of Revolution (nonfiction/biography/ history of science), W.W. Norton, 2005

Toussaint Louverture: A Biography ,Pantheon Books, 2007; Vintage books 2008 (paperback edition)

Charm City: A Walk through Baltimore (nonfiction) Crown, 2007

New Stories from the South 2009: The Year’s Best (anthology edited by Madison Smartt Bell) Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2009

Devil’s Dream (novel) Pantheon, 2009; Vintage Books 2010 (paperback edition)

The Color of Night (novel), Vintage Books 2011  (paperback original)

Zig-Zag Wanderer (short stories) Concord Free Press, 2014; Electronic edition, Open Road, September 2015

Exhibits or Performances

Art Show: Enso drawn by me were used as background art for a display of haiku by 48 Baltimore Writers on the Baltimore LED Bill (Penn North) in December 2014.  Some images can be seen at:

External Awards, Honors, Grants

The Lillian Smith Award, 1989

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, 1991

Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award, 1991

George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Award, 1991-2

National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, 1992

National Book Award Finalist (for All Souls' Rising) 1995

PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist (for All Souls' Rising) 1996

Maryland Author Award (from the Maryland Library Ass. for All Souls' Rising), 1996

Annisfield-Wolf Award (for All Souls' Rising), 1996

Selected for Granta "Best American Novelists Under 40" issue, 1996

John Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature, 2001

Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2008

Fellow, Leon Levy Center for Biography (City University of New York) 2011-12

Paul Bowles Award for Fiction, Five Points magazine, 2015

Conference Papers & Panel Participation

“Writing for the Ear,” Writing Workshop at The Studios of Key West, Key West FL, March 12-21.

“Weaving History into Fiction,” Panel Discussion, Southern Lit Alliance, Chattanooga TN, April 16, 2015

“Dessalines Dismembered,” New York University, April 27, 2015

Tribute to Michel Rolph Trouillot, American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Washington DC, November 21, 2013

Haitian Studies Association, Montreal (October 21-25, 2015) presentation of Soul in a Bottle

SAMLA, Raleigh Durham, NC (November 12-15, 2015) Creative Plenary Speaker (with Wyn Cooper, events included Bell & Cooper musical performance).

“John Barth Loves Us” (panel) Johns Hopkins University (February 14, 2016)

Tribute to Robert Stone, PEN/Faulkner Foundation, Washington DC (May 2, 2016)

Invited Talks

Reynolds Price Visiting Writer, Duke University (March 3, 2016)

Residency, including fiction reading from Behind the Moon, and “Unconscious Mind” craft lecture, at Old Dominion University MFA Creative Writing Program, October 2-8 2013

Reading from Zig-Zag Wanderer, The Ivy Bookstore, Baltimore, MD, December 7, 2013

Residency and reading at Rollins College Writing Program, Florida, February 26-27, 2014

Reading from Zig-Zag Wanderer, Newtonville Books, Boston, MA, April 9, 2014

Presented PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction winner, Washington DC, May 10, 2014

Academic or Professional Associations

Member, Associated Writing  Programs

Fellowship of Southern Writers, 2003- present

Fellow, Society of American Historians, elected 2005

Contributing Editor, Bomb, 2010- present

PEN/Faulkner Board of Directors 2014- present