Keija Parssinen graduated cum laude from Princeton University, where she studied English literature and received a certificate from the Program for the Study of Women and Gender. She earned her MFA at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote fellow, a Teaching and Writing fellow, and the student editor of the Iowa Short Fiction contest. After finishing the program, she won a Michener-Copernicus award for her debut novel, The Ruins of Us, which was published in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Italy and around the Middle East. The novel was long-listed for the Chautauqua Prize and was selected as a Best Book of the Middle East Region by Turkey’s Today’s Zaman newspaper. It is forthcoming in Arabic from the Syrian Ministry of Culture.
Her second novel, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis, won an Alex Award from the American Library Association and was selected as a Best Book of the Year by the Kansas City Star, Lone Star Literary Life, Missouri Life, and Brazos Bookstore.
Her short fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in the Lonely Planet travel-writing anthologies, The Arkansas International, The Brooklyn Quarterly, Slice Magazine, Salon, Five Chapters, the New Delta Review, Marie Claire, This Land, Off Assignment, and elsewhere. Her work has been supported by fellowships and residencies from the Corporation of Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, Playa Summer Lake, the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, and the Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow, where she was a My Time Fellow.
Keija was born in Saudi Arabia and lived there for twelve years before her family moved to Austin, Texas. She is the Program Director of Cedar Crest College’s Pan-European MFA program, as well as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Tulsa. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and sons.