Rutgers University, Newark, Professor Jayne Anne Phillips Named National Book Award Finalist

Add This

“Lark & Termite” Receives Fiction Nomination

(NEWARK, NJ, October 15, 2009) —Jayne Anne Phillips, professor of English and founder and program director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at Rutgers University in Newark, continues to receive accolades for her fourth novel. Lark & Termite has been selected as one of five finalists for the National Book Award in fiction. Winners from each of the four categories – fiction, nonfiction, young people’s literature, and poetry – will be announced at the National Book Award’s 60th anniversary gala dinner in New York on November 18.

Lark & Termite is a story of parallel worlds that centers on five characters: 17-year-old Lark; 9-year-old Termite, Lark’s severely disabled half brother; Nonie, the maternal aunt and caretaker of Lark and Termite; Lola, the children’s mother; and Corporal Robert Leavitt, Termite’s father, who finds himself caught up in the early chaotic months of the Korean War. A tale of grief and survival, this 2009 Heartland Prize-winning story takes place on six July days in 1950, as Leavitt directs an evacuation of Korean refugees, and in 1959, as Lark, Termite, and Nonie struggle to balance hope and despair in small-town West Virginia.  Lark & Termite is a story of the power of loss and love, the echoing ramifications of war, family secrets, and the unseen, almost magical bonds that unite and sustain us.

Phillips’ other novels are MotherKind, Shelter and Machine Dreams. She also has written two collections of widely anthologized stories, Fast Lanes and Black Tickets. Her work has been translated into twelve languages and has appeared in Granta, Harper’s, DoubleTake, and The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction.

Drawing on the urban energy of Newark and the diversity of the Rutgers campus, in 2007, Phillips designed the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing. During its inaugural year, The Atlantic magazine named the program in its list of “Five Up-and-Coming” creative writing programs in the United States.

Born and raised in West Virginia, Phillips received her bachelor’s degree in English from West Virginia University and her MFA from the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. To learn more about Phillips and her work, visit

Media Contact: Helen Paxton

Contact: Ferlanda Fox Nixon