Carmen Maria Machado is the American author of the bestselling memoir In the Dream House (2019) and the award-winning short story collection Her Body and Other Parties (2017). She has also written stories, criticism, essays, graphic novels, and erotica.
Her writing is known for its haunting quality, blending familiar and defamiliarized elements, and often explores themes related to the experiences of women and queer communities.
Carmen Maria Machado was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Her paternal grandfather immigrated from Santa Clara, Cuba, to the United States after serving in the Korean War. Growing up in a religious United Methodist household, she navigated the challenges of reconciling her queer sexuality with her upbringing.
Machado attended Parkland High School in South Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania, before pursuing her undergraduate studies at American University in Washington, D.C., where she graduated in 2008. Later, she earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Her literary journey includes stints at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she worked for two years, and various fellowships and residencies from institutions like the Michener-Copernicus Foundation, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the CINTAS Foundation, and others. Notably, she participated in the Clarion Workshop under the guidance of author Ted Chiang.
Following a rejection from Starbucks in 2013, she worked at Lush, a soap store, while teaching writing as an adjunct professor at Rosemont College and other institutions. Additionally, she engaged in freelance writing during her time in Pennsylvania.
Her works have appeared in various publications like the New Yorker, the New York Times, Granta, Vogue, This American Life, Harper’s Bazaar, Tin House, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, The Believer, Guernica, Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, and Best American Nonrequired Reading.
In 2017, her horror-inspired short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, gained widespread acclaim. The collection was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award John Leonard Prize.
Texas school banned Her Body and Other Parties. This veto is part of a broader trend in the state where books by authors from marginalized groups, including people of colour, queer people, and genderqueer people, are being targeted for removal from libraries and schools.
In 2018, Machado was the Guest Editor of the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019 edition. Her foray into science fiction includes contributions to volumes like Latinx Rising: An Anthology of Latinx Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Her memoir, In the Dream House, published in 2019, earned critical acclaim and won the 2021 Folio Prize. The memoir delves into her experiences and receives recognition for its unique narrative structure.
Carmen Maria Machado received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2019 and served as a Visiting associate professor at the Iowa Writers' Workshop in Spring 2021.
Adding another layer to her diverse body of work, her essay Both Ways, exploring Jennifer's Body, is featured in the anthology It Came from the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror, published in 2022.
Machado is working on a new book titled A Brief and Fearful Star, a collection of linked short stories set over various historical time periods and revolving around a celestial object named Solo-9.
Carmen Maria Machado is the Abrams Artist-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania and resides in Philadelphia.