Courtesy of Cornell University

Ma is perhaps most well-known for debut novel, "Severance."

March 3, 2022

Acclaimed Author Ling Ma MFA ’15 to Hold Reading in Klarman Hall

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Cornell alumna and renowned author Ling Ma MFA ’15 will be the second guest to hold a reading as part of the 2022 Barbara and David Zalaznick Reading Series on Thursday, March 10 in Klarman Hall, where she will read from her collection of fictional work.

Ma has won numerous accolades for her writing, including the Whiting Award and a National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship

The Chinese-American author is best known for her debut science fiction novel Severance, which won a Kirkus Prize — a prestigious award that presents select winning authors with $50,000 — for fiction in 2018, as well as the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award. Severance was also a New York Times Notable Book and an NPR Best Book of 2018.

According to her faculty biography for the University of Chicago, where she has worked in the English department since 2017, Ma is creatively inspired by a variety of sources –– including Novelist Franz Kafka, 90s/00s zines, contemporary art and reality TV –– and is particularly interested in using her writing to explore issues of labor, money, the body, evolutions of cities and the supernatural.

Before attending Cornell, Ma was a journalist and editor, and her work has been featured in Granta, Buzzfeed, Playboy, Chicago Reader and Vice.

While getting her master’s in fine arts, Ma also taught creative writing and English literature at Cornell.

Following the reading, Ma will be holding a book signing, and her book Severance will be available for purchase at local bookstore Buffalo Street Books.

Ma’s reading will be the second installment of the spring 2022 Zalaznick Reading Series. The organizers plan to hold two more events this semester: one with poet and PEN America/Vladimir Nabokov Award winner M. NourbeSe Philip on Thursday, Apr. 14, and the other with Vietnamese American multigenre writer Bao Phi on Thursday, Apr. 28. 

The semester’s first reading was held on Feb. 24 and featured Cornell professors Prof. J. Robert Lennon, literatures in english, and Prof. Mukoma Wa Ngugi, literatures in english. 

Ma’s reading is open to the University community in-person with a Cornell ID and protective medical face mask. Those interested in attending online can access the Zoom information here.