John Edgar Wideman

John Edgar Wideman

Wideman at the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards in 2010
Born (1941-06-14) June 14, 1941
Washington, D.C.
Occupation Professor
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania
New College, Oxford
Spouse Judith Ann Goldman (1965–2000)
Children Three

John Edgar Wideman (born June 14, 1941) is an American writer, professor at Brown University,[1] and sits on the contributing editorial board of the literary journal Conjunctions.[2]

Early life

Wideman was born on June 14, 1941. He grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US, and much of his writing is set there, especially in the Homewood neighborhood of the East End. He graduated from Pittsburgh's Peabody High School, then attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he became an All-Ivy League forward on the basketball team. He was the second African American to win a Rhodes Scholarship (New College, Oxford, England), graduating in 1966. He also graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.

Writing and teaching career

A widely celebrated writer and the winner of many literary awards, he is the first to win the International PEN/Faulkner Award twice: in 1984 for Sent for You Yesterday and in 1990 for Philadelphia Fire.[3] In 2000, he won the O. Henry Award for his short story "Weight", published in Callaloo journal. Following the publication of the Homewood trilogy, The New York Times proclaimed John Edgar Wideman, "one of America's premier writers of fiction."[4]

He has taught at the University of Wyoming, University of Pennsylvania, where he founded and chaired the African American Studies Department, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst's MFA Program for Poets & Writers. He currently is a professor at Brown University.


Wideman has been the recipient of a number of awards for his writing. His 1990 novel Philadelphia Fire[5] won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1990, and the American Book Awards in 1991. His non-fiction book Brothers and Keepers received a National Book Critics Circle nomination,[6] and his memoir Fatheralong was a finalist for the National Book Award. In 1997, his novel The Cattle Killing won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction.

Wideman was chosen as winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story in 1998, for outstanding achievement, and won the lifetime achievement award of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards in 2011.[7]

Wideman is also the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant. In 2016, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.[8]


In 1965 he married Judith Ann Goldman, an attorney, with whom he has three children: Daniel, Jacob, and Jamila. That marriage ended in divorce in 2000. In 2004 he married French journalist Catherine Nedonchelle, with whom he resides on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City.

Jacob Wideman,[9] John's middle child, received a life sentence for the August 1986 murder of 16-year-old Eric Kane, John Edgar Wideman's daughter Jamila Wideman was formerly a professional basketball player in the Women's National Basketball Association and the Israeli League.



Omnibus editions


Memoirs and other


  1. "Africana Studies: John Edgar Wideman". Brown University. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  2. "About Conjunctions". Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  3. "John Edgar Wideman, author". Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  4. Books, Featured Author: John Edgar Wideman, The New York Times, on the Web (accessed October 17, 2011).
  5. John Edgar Wideman, Philadelphia Fire: A Novel, Holt, NY, January 26, 1990, ISBN 978-0-618-50964-5
  6. "John Edgar Wideman, Brothers and Keepers" at Portfolio.
  7. "76th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize Winners Announced", August 11, 2011.
  9. Michael Norman, "To an Author, Violence Comes Again", New York Times, September 4, 1986 (accessed October 17, 2011).

Further reading

External links

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