Hillary Jordan is an award-winning American author and screenwriter whose fiction has been translated into fifteen languages.
Her debut novel, Mudbound, won the prestigious Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, founded by Barbara Kingsolver and now administered by PEN America. A gripping story of murder, betrayal, and forbidden love set on a farm in the Mississippi Delta, Mudbound follows two families, one Black and one white, who are forced to confront the brutal realities of prejudice in the WWII-era Jim Crow South. The Washington Post called it “a compelling family tragedy, a confluence of romantic attraction and racial hatred that eventually falls like an avalanche.” The winner of an Alex Award from the American Library Association, Mudbound was described by Tayari Jones as “a tremendous gift, a story that challenges the 1950s textbook version of our history and leaves its readers completely in the thrall of her characters.”
In 2017, Mudbound was adapted into a critically-acclaimed film that debuted at Sundance and was acquired by Netflix, where it racked up over 20 million hours of viewing in its first year. Directed by Dee Rees and starring Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, and Mary J. Blige, the film garnered four Academy Award nominations, among many other honors. Rolling Stone called it “a stunning achievement” and “a fiercely intimate epic about poverty, racism, violence and a divided America [that] scorchingly reflects the Trump era without being a part of it.” The Atlantic echoed the sentiment, writing, “In a year when fissures in American race relations continue to be at the forefront of national discussion, Mudbound feels like a worthy antidote to the pop culture that has struggled to reflect this current reality.”
When She Woke, Jordan’s second novel, is a provocative reimagining of The Scarlet Letter set in a theistic, right-wing America of the not-too-distant future. After Hannah Payne is convicted of murder for having an abortion, she awakens to a nightmare: lying on a bed in a mirrored prison cell, her skin turned stop-sign red. Cameras are broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing newly made “Chromes”—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to reflect their crime—is a sinister form of entertainment. As Hannah seeks a path to safety in a hostile world, she unknowingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith and love.
Jennie Teriault of Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “When She Woke is not only one of the best books of the year, but it’s everything the dystopian genre was made for… an instant classic for the 21st Century.” In its starred review, Booklist noted, “Jordan blends hot-button issues such as separation of church and state, abortion, and criminal justice with an utterly engrossing story.… Absolutely a must-read.” The novel was long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was a Lamda Literary Award finalist. It recently made The Atlantic’s list of “Literature for a Post Roe World” and a similar list on CNN.
Jordan is also the co-editor, along with Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, of Anonymous Sex, an anthology of erotic short stories that explore the diverse landscape of desire by 27 award-winning authors, including Louise Erdrich, Helen Oyeyemi, Paul Theroux, Julia Glass, Luis Alberto Urrea, Rebecca Makkai, Téa Obreht, and Edmund White. The reader will know who the contributors are, but not which story they wrote, providing readers with a glimpse into an uninhibited landscape of sexuality as explored by some of today’s finest authors. The ultimate literary parlor game, Anonymous Sex is a “sizzling collection of top-notch literary fiction” (The Los Angeles Times).
Jordan has recently completed a screen adaptation of When She Woke for 30West and ArtImage Entertainment. Other upcoming projects include work on a third novel as well as an original screenplay about the Texas Prison Rodeo called “The Walls.” When she’s not writing, she speaks at colleges, literary festivals, community read programs, and libraries, and also teaches the occasional workshop.
Jordan grew up in Dallas, TX and Muskogee, OK. She received her BA in English and political science from Wellesley College and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, along with half the writers in America.here.