Photo: Annette Hornischer

Writer, New York

Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow in Fiction - Class of Fall 2010


John Wray is a New York-based author whose first novel, The Right Hand of Sleep (Knopf, 2001), won the Whiting Writers’ Award for Fiction in 2001. It was followed by Canaan’s Tongue (Knopf, 2005), a book based on a legend about the preacher John Murrell, described by Mark Twain in Life on the Mississippi. Wray’s third novel, Lowboy (Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2008), tells the story of 16-year-old William Heller, a paranoid schizophrenic who has just escaped his chaperones at a mental institution, as he makes his way through the Manhattan subway system. Wray’s compassionate and deeply unsettling portrait of the boy won praise from many reviewers, including the New York Times Book Review, which called the book “a meticulously constructed novel, immensely satisfying in the perfect, precise beat of its plot.” Wray’s writing has been published in the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, and Paris Review. In 2007 he was selected as one of the best American novelists under the age of 35 by Granta.