Ayana Mathis

Ayana Mathis is the author of THE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIE (Knopf, 2012) and most recently, THE UNSETTLED (Knopf, 2023) which was named a New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book of 2023, a best of 2023 by The New Yorker, Publisher’s Weekly, an Oprah Daily Best Novels of 2023, and a Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2023. The New York Times calls it, “Poignant, heartbreaking,” while The Minneapolis Star Tribune describes it as, “An ardent, ambitious, and carefully stitched tapestry of a novel, one that deserves and rewards our attention.

Her first novel, THE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIE, was a New York Times Bestseller, the second selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, a 2013 New York Times Notable Book, NPR Best Book of 2013, and was long listed for the Dublin Literary Award and nominated for Hurston/Wright Foundation’s Legacy Award. Mathis’s essays and criticism have been published in the The New York Times, The AtlanticT Magazine, The Financial Times, RollingStone, Guernica and Glamour. Currently pursuing her Masters of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary, Mathis’s most recent nonfiction explores the intertwining of faith and American literature in her five- part New York Times essay series “Imprinted By Belief”.

Her work has been supported by the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and the Bogliasco Foundation. She was a 2024-25 American Academy in Berlin Prize Fellow. Mathis received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and went on to become the first African-American woman to serve as an Assistant Professor in that program. She currently teaches at Hunter College in the MFA Program.



Ayana Mathis’s first novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, quickly became a New York Times bestseller and was hailed as an NPR Best Book of 2013. Mathis’s characters are poignant, her storytelling is heart-searing. With her latest book, The Unsettled, named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The New Yorker, critics agree that Mathis “once again strikes story-telling gold.”


Photo credit – Beowulf Sheehan