• Lori Ostlund

    Faculty Mentor, Fiction


Professional Bio

Lori Ostlund’s first collection of stories, The Bigness of the World, received the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the California Book Award for First Fiction, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, was a Lambda finalist, and will be re-issued by Scribner in early 2016. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, ZYZZYVA, Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, and The Georgia Review, among other publications. Her second book, a novel entitled After the Parade, is a Barnes and Noble Discover pick and is on the shortlist for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize.

In 2009, Lori was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and has served as a screening judge for the Bakeless Prize for novels and story collections and the Flannery O’Connor Award. From 2010 to 2012, she was the Kenan Visiting Writer at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, during which time she taught fiction workshops. Since returning to San Francisco, she has spent summers working with both first- and second-year thesis students in the MFA program at the University of San Francisco. Her day job involves working with international business students. She has primarily earned her living teaching ESL and remedial English, as well as running an Asian furniture store called Two Serious Ladies (after the Jane Bowles novel). Lori's story collection, The Bigness of the Word, will be re-issued by Scribner in early 2016. Her novel is now out and is a Barnes and Noble Discover pick and is on the shortlist for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize.

Lori is interested in the ways that character and place intersect, particularly when place either shapes or isolates a character. She writes a lot about small-town Minnesota, for example, but many of her stories are set overseas. She is also interested in the ways that humor is created on the page and in sentence-level craft. She works particularly well with students who like the challenge of figuring out how best to ‘fix’ things, to accept honest criticism without needing the  solution quantified, to feel animated (rather than passive) about the process. In working with writers, her main goal is to help them see what they can’t always see because they are too close to the work: most people have the ability to find their own solutions, to fix the work in a way that fits with their style or vision for the story, but we often need some help seeing the problem.