“There is a luminous beauty in Phillips’s prose. Whether it is the dark interiors of war–which have become her forte–or the equally complex and fraught lives of so-called “ordinary” people, Phillips brings these theaters of peace and loss, death and transcendence together with a remarkable alchemy.” — Ken Burns

Jayne Anne Philips is the author of six novels, including Night Watch, Quiet Dell, Lark And Termite, MotherKind, Shelter, and Machine Dreams, and two widely anthologized story collections, Fast Lanes, and Black Tickets. Night Watch was awarded the 2024 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and Longlisted for the National Book Award; Quiet Dell was a Wall Street Journal and a Kirkus Review Best Fiction selection. Lark And Termite, winner of the Heartland Prize, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Prix de Medici Etranger. Machine Dreams, chosen as one of (12) New York Times’ Best Books of the year, was a finalist for National Book Critic’s Circle Award. Black Tickets, awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy, is often cited as a book of stories that influenced a generation of writers. The recipient of Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Arts, Howard, Bunting, and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, Phillips is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts & Letters.

Jayne Anne's Featured Titles

Night Watch (Pulitzer Prize Winner): A novel

Knopf |
Literary Fiction

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN FICTION • A NEW YORKER BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • From one of our most accomplished novelists, a mesmerizing story about a mother and daughter seeking refuge in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War—and a brilliant portrait of family endurance against all odds

“A tour de force.” —Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage

In 1874, in the wake of the War, erasure, trauma, and namelessness haunt civilians and veterans, renegades and wanderers, freedmen and runaways. Twelve-year-old ConaLee, the adult in her family for as long as she can remember, finds herself on a buckboard journey with her mother, Eliza, who hasn’t spoken in more than a year. They arrive at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia, delivered to the hospital’s entrance by a war veteran who has forced himself into their world. There, far from family, a beloved neighbor, and the mountain home they knew, they try to reclaim their lives.

The omnipresent vagaries of war and race rise to the surface as we learn their story: their flight to the highest mountain ridges of western Virginia; the disappearance of ConaLee’s father, who left for the War and never returned. Meanwhile, in the asylum, they begin to find a new path. ConaLee pretends to be her mother’s maid; Eliza responds slowly to treatment. They get swept up in the life of the facility—the mysterious man they call the Night Watch; the orphan child called Weed; the fearsome woman who runs the kitchen; the remarkable doctor at the head of the institution.

Epic, enthralling, and meticulously crafted, Night Watch is a stunning chronicle of surviving war and its aftermath.

Quiet Dell: A Novel

Scribner |
Literary Fiction

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Night Watch, a spectacularly riveting novel based on a real-life crime by a con man who preyed on widows: “a brilliant fusion of fact and fiction” (Stephen King).

In Chicago in 1931, Asta Eicher, a lonely mother of three, is desperate for money after the sudden death of her husband. She begins to receive seductive letters from a chivalrous, elegant man named Harry Powers, who promises to cherish and protect her, ultimately to marry her and to care for her and her children. Weeks later, Asta and her three children are dead.

Emily Thornhill, one of the few women journalists in the Chicago press, wants to understand what happened to this beautiful family, particularly to the youngest child, Annabel, an enchanting girl with a precocious imagination and sense of magic. Determined, Emily travels to West Virginia to cover the murder trial and to investigate the story herself, accompanied by a charming and unconventional photographer equally drawn to the case. These heroic characters, driven by secrets of their own, will stop at nothing to ensure Powers is convicted.

A tragedy, a love story, and a tour de force of obsession, Jayne Anne Phillips’s Quiet Dell “hauntingly imagines the victims’ hopes, dreams, and terror” (O, The Oprah Magazine). It is a mesmerizing and deeply moving novel from one of America’s most celebrated writers.

Lark and Termite: A Novel

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group |
Literary Fiction

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Night Watch, a “powerful and emotionally piercing” novel (The New York Times) set during the 1950 in West Virginia and Korea, that intertwines family secrets, war, dreams, and ghosts in a story about the love that unites us all.

Lark and Termite is a rich, wonderfully alive novel about seventeen year old Lark and her brother, Termite, living in West Virginia in the 1950s. Their mother, Lola, is absent, while their aunt, Nonie, raises them as her own, and Termite’s father, Corporal Robert Leavitt, is caught up in the early days of the Korean War.

Told with deep feeling, the novel invites us deep into the hearts and thoughts of Lark, on the verge of adulthood, and her brother, Termite, a child unable to walk and talk, who is filled with radiance. We are also with Corporal Leavitt, trapped by friendly fire alongside the Korean children he tries to rescue. We see Lark’s dreams for Termite and her own future, and how, with the aid of a childhood love and a spectral social worker, she makes them happen. We learn of Lola’s love for her soldier husband and her children, and unravel the mystery of her relationship with Nonie.

We discover the lasting connections between past and future on the night the town experiences an overwhelming flood, and we follow Lark and Termite as their lives are changed forever.

Shelter: A Novel

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group |
Literary Fiction

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Night Watch comes a novel set in a West Virginia forest in 1963, where a group of children at summer camp enter a foreboding Eden and experience an unexpected rite of passage.

“A rich, vivid novel of moral and psychological complexity destined to stand alongside works by Faulkner and other masters of Southern literature.” —Vanity Fair

Shelter is an astonishing portrayal of an American loss of innocence as witnessed by a mysterious drifter named Parson, two young sisters, Lenny and Alma, and a feral boy called Buddy. Together they come to understand bravery and the importance of compassion.

Phillips unearths a dangerous beauty in this primeval terrain and in the hearts of her characters. Lies, secrets, erotic initiations, and the bonds of love between friends, families, and generations are transformed in a leafy wilderness undiminished by societal rules and dilemmas. Cast in Phillips’ stunning prose, with an unpredictable cast of characters and a shadowy, suspenseful narrative, Shelter is a an enduring achievement from one of the finest writers of our time.

Black Tickets: Stories

Vintage |
Literary Fiction

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Night Watch: the reputation-making debut short story collection that paved the way for a new generation of writers. • “Brilliant … Phillips is a virtuoso.” —The Chicago Tribune

Jayne Anne Phillips’s reputation-making debut collection paved the way for a new generation of writers. Raved about by reviewers and embraced by the likes of Raymond Carver, Frank Conroy, Annie Dillard, and Nadine Gordimer, Black Tickets now stands as a classic.

With an uncanny ability to depict the lives of men and women who rarely register in our literature, Phillips writes stories that lay bare their suffering and joy. Here are the abused and the abandoned, the violent and the passive, the impoverished and the disenfranchised who populate the small towns and rural byways of the country. A patron of the arts reserves his fondest feeling for the one man who wants it least. A stripper, the daughter of a witch, escapes from poverty into another kind of violence. A young girl during the Depression is caught between the love of her crazy father and the no less powerful love of her sorrowful mother. These are great American stories that have earned a privileged place in our literature.

MotherKind: A Novel

Vintage |
Literary Fiction

A major novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Night Watch that depicts the life of a new wife and mother who must become a caregiver to her ailing mother, and  confront profound loss alongside radiant beginnings.

Formerly free-spirited, unattached Kate enters into roles of enormous responsibility: as she takes the first steps into a new marriage complete with her own beloved infant and two lively young stepsons, she becomes caregiver to her ailing mother, the strong woman who has been her guiding star and counterpart across a divide of experience and time.

Jayne Anne Phillips transforms quotidian details into a shimmering whole, giving us Kate and her family in all the complexity their world offers. Phillips’ renowned skill at portraiture combines with her equally nuanced sense of narrative in this heartstrong and delicately layered novel.

Fast Lanes

Vintage |
Short Stories

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Night Watch: a short story collection that presents a tour de force of voices, offering elegantly rendered views into the lives of characters torn between the liberation of detachment and the desire to connect.

“A brilliant writer, utterly original and with an astonishing range.” —Ian McEwan, New York Times bestselling author of Atonement and Lessons

Three stories are collected in this edition for the first time: in “Alma,” and adolescent daughter is made the confidante of her lonely mother; “Counting” traces the history of a dommed love affair; and “Callie” evokes memories of the haunting death of a child in 1920’s West Virginia.  Along with the original seven stories from Fast Laneseach told in extraordinary first person narratives that have been hailed by critics as virtuoso performances—these incandescent portraits offer windows into the lives of an entire generation of Americans, demonstrating again and again why Jayne Anne Phillips remains one of our most powerful writers.

Machine Dreams

Vintage |
Literary Fiction

Called “an enduring literary achievement . . . astonishing” by The New York Timesthis highly acclaimed debut novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Night Watch introduces the Hampsons, an ordinary, small-town American family profoundly affected by the extraordinary events of history—from the Depression to the Vietnam War.

One of The Atlantic’s Great American Novels of the Past 100 Years

Here is a stunning chronicle that is revealed in the thoughts, dreams, and memories of each member of the Hampson family. Mitch struggles to earn a living as Jeans becomes the main breadwinner, working to complete college and raise the family. While the couple fight to keep their marriage intact, their daughter Danner and son Billy forge a sibling bond of uncommon strength. When Billy goes off to Vietnam, Danner becomes the sole bond linking her family, whose dissolution mirrors the fractured state of America in the 1960s. Deeply felt and vividly imagined, this lyrical novel is “among the wisest of a generation to grapple with a war that maimed us all” (The Village Voice), by a master of contemporary fiction.


Coming Soon!

Jayne Anne Phillips on Night Watch with Danielle Ofri – The Center for Fiction

Essays and Articles by Jayne Anne Phillips


Q&A with Jayne Anne Phillips

Listen to an excerpt of Night Watch

Honors, Awards & Recognition

2024 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
National Book Award Finalist
New York Times Bestseller
Quiet Dell: Publisher’s Weekly and Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year
National Book Critic’s Circle Award Finalist
Prix de Medici Etranger Finalist
Heartland Prize
Massachusetts Book Award
Orange Prize Finalist
Academy Award in Literature
Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction
Guggenheim Fellowship
Bunting Fellowship
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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