Tayari Jones was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia where (with the exception of one year in Nigeria) she spent most of her childhood. Even though she has not lived in her hometown for more than a decade, most of her writing centers on the urban South. "Although I now live in the Northeast," she explains, "my imagination lives in Atlanta."
Silver Sparrow, her third novel, was published in 2011 by Algonquin Books. The Village Voice wrote that "Tayari Jones is fast defining black middle class Atlanta the way that Cheever did for Westchester." The American Booksellers chose Silver Sparrow as the #1 Indie Next pick for June 2011. Library Journal, O Magazine, Slate and Salon all selected the novel among the best of the year. National media coverage of the book has included O Magazine, Vogue, Poets and Writers, and NPR's All Things Considered, among other sources. In addition to being chosen by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association as an Honor Book, Silver Sparrow was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and the 2013 IMPAC Dublin International Literary Award.
A recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Tayari Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, the University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She has taught at Prairie View A&M University, East Tennessee State University, the University of Illinois and George Washington University. In addition, she has led workshops in Portugal, Ghana, Uganda, and Brazil. Currently, she is an Associate Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University, where she was awarded with a Board of Trustees Award for Scholarly Excellence, the Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, a Leader in Faculty Diversity Award. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the United States Artists Foundation and the arts councils of Arizona and Illinois. She spent the 2011-12 academic year at Harvard University as a Radcliffe Institute Fellow, researching her forthcoming novel, Dear History.