Fellow: Awarded 2015
Field of Study: General Nonfiction
Competition: US & Canada
Many readers became acquainted with Meghan Daum when her essay, My Misspent Youth, appeared in The New Yorker in 1999. Part valentine to the bohemian mythos of New York City and part horror story about the financial and psychological tolls of chasing that fantasy, the piece struck a chord with readers and went on to become the title essay of Daum’s 2001 debut collection. By then, Daum, a prolific magazine writer and supposedly inveterate New Yorker, had relocated from Manhattan to a farmhouse outside of Lincoln, Nebraska. There, she continued to write magazine features, contributed commentaries to NPR’s Morning Edition, and completed a novel, The Quality of Life Report, which was published by Viking in 2003.
Continuing her move westward, Daum eventually settled in Los Angeles and, in 2005, became a columnist on the op-ed page of The Los Angeles Times. That column, now in its tenth year, covers cultural and political topics and social politics and appears in several newspapers nationwide. During that time, Daum continued to write for a range of publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Slate, and Elle, and published three more books. Those books include the memoir Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House (Knopf 2010) and the collection of original essays The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion (FSG 2014.) Daum is also the editor of the anthology Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not To Have Kids, which was published by Picador in the spring of 2015.
Daum, who holds an M.F.A. from the Writing Division of Columbia University’s School of the Arts, is currently an adjunct associate professor in that program. She has also taught at the California Institute for the Arts, the Nebraska Summer Writers' Conference, and The Aspen Institute's Aspen Summer Words Conference. Daum has served as a mentor in PEN USA's Emerging Voices Program and also volunteers as a foster child advocate for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Los Angeles County. She has held fellowships from the Corporation of Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony and currently divides her time between Los Angeles and New York City.