Melanie Rae Thon

Fellow: Awarded 2016

Field of Study: Fiction

Competition: US & Canada


Intimate violence, environmental crisis, and miraculous resilience animate the catalytic fictions of Silence & Song. From the blistering expanse of the Sonoran Desert to Chernobyl’s Zone of Alienation, lost immigrants, child refugees, radioactive wolves, problem bears, liquidators, and the sister of a desperate killer seek grace in the midst of devastation.

In The 7th Man, the fevered confession of a prison guard exposes the secret role he’s played in 131 executions. Cracked and transformed by a terrifying cascade of memories, Valen Arnoux comes to believe any man he’s killed might be himself, his closest friend, his brother—every suffering mother seems to be his own—every victim his wife or child.

Melanie Rae Thon’s other books include The Good Samaritan Speaks, a fine art edition featuring her poetry and the work of eight visual artists; the novels The Voice of the River, Sweet Hearts, Meteors in August, and Iona Moon; and the story collections In This Light, Girls in the Grass, and First, Body. She is a recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award, the Hopwood Award, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Gina Berriault Award, and a Writer's Residency from the Lannan Foundation. In 2009, she was Virgil C. Aldrich Fellow at the Tanner Humanities Center.

As a teacher and writer, she is devoted to the celebration of diversity from a multitude of human and nonhuman perspectives, shattering traditional limits of narrative consciousness as she interrogates the repercussions of exile, slavery, habitat loss, genocide and extirpation in the context of mystery and miracle, the infinite wonder of cosmic abundance.

There are three ascending levels of how one mourns: with tears ~ that is the lowest ~ with silence ~ that is higher ~ and with song ~ that is the highest.
~ Hasidic teaching

Originally from Montana, Melanie now lives in Salt Lake City, where she teaches in the Creative Writing and Environmental Humanities Programs at the University of Utah.

Follow this link to read essays on Melanie’s FC2 Author Page
Follow this link to read an interview with Melanie Rae Thon
Follow this link to view a trailer for Silence & Song
Follow this link to read the story “Tu B’Shvat: for the Drowned and the Saved”
Follow this link to view images from The Good Samaritan Speaks
Follow this link to view Melanie’s Broadside from Saltfront
Follow this link to Melanie’s Faculty Page at the University of Utah

Photograph credit: Andi Olsen