Barry Hannah

Barry Hannah (April 23, 1942 – March 1, 2010) was an American novelist and short story writer from Mississippi.[1][2] Hannah was born in Meridian, Mississippi, on April 23, 1942, and grew up in Clinton, Mississippi. He wrote eight novels and five short story collections.[3]

His first novel, Geronimo Rex (1972), was nominated for the National Book Award. Airships, his 1978 collection of short stories about the Vietnam War, the American Civil War, and the modern South, won the Arnold Gingrich Short Fiction Award. The following year, Hannah received the prestigious Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Hannah won a Guggenheim, the Robert Penn Warren Lifetime Achievement Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in the art of the short story.[3]

He was awarded the Fiction Prize of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters twice and received Mississippi's prestigious Governor's Award in 1989 for distinguished representation of the state of Mississippi in artistic and cultural matters. For a brief time Hannah lived in Los Angeles and worked as a writer for the film director Robert Altman.[2] He was director of the MFA program at the University of Mississippi, in Oxford, where he taught creative writing for 28 years. He died on March 1, 2010, of a heart attack.[4]

Barry Hannah
BornApril 23, 1942
Meridian, Mississippi, United States
DiedMarch 1, 2010 (aged 67)
Oxford, Mississippi, United States
OccupationShort story writer, novelist, professor
GenreShort story, novel

Early life

Hannah was born in Meridian, Mississippi, on April 23, 1942, and grew up in Clinton, Mississippi.[5]


At Mississippi College, Hannah majored in pre-med but later switched to literature.[6] He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mississippi College in Clinton in 1964.[5] He spent the next three years at the University of Arkansas, where he earned a Master of Arts in 1966 and a Master of Fine Arts in 1967.[5]


Barry Hannah's fictions contain situational humor that spans a wide gamut, from the surreal to grotesque and black humor.[7] His first publication was a story that was placed in a national anthology of the best college writing when he was a student at the University of Arkansas. Soon after that, Hannah wrote "Mother Rooney Unscrolls the Hurt":

And then I wrote my first truly good story, "Mother Rooney Unscrolls the Hurt," which was a piece of my then-forthcoming book, Geronimo Rex. I was about twenty-three. It really lit up for me, I thought. I don't really care what folks think of it now, but "Mother Rooney" was a springboard to the rest of my creative life.[8]

Hannah's first novel, the grotesque coming-of-age tale Geronimo Rex (1972), was nominated for the National Book Award.[4] Nightwatchmen (1973), his second novel, was a difficult book, and it is his only work never to be reissued in paperback.[9] Hannah returned to form, however, with the short-story collection Airships (1978). Most of the stories in the volume were first published in Esquire magazine by its fiction editor at the time, Gordon Lish.[5] The short novel Ray (1980) was a critical success and a minor breakthrough for Hannah, and one of his best-known novels.[10]

After the grotesque Western pastiche Never Die (1991),[11] Hannah stuck to short stories for the rest of the decade, first with the immense Bats Out of Hell (1993), which featured 23 stories over close to 400 pages, making it Hannah's longest book, and then with High Lonesome (1996), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.[2] After a near-fatal bout with non-Hodgkin lymphoma,[12] Hannah returned in 2001 with Yonder Stands Your Orphan (the title is taken from Bob Dylan's song "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"), his longest novel since Geronimo Rex. In this novel, Hannah returned to a small community north of Vicksburg and to some of the characters featured in stories from Airships and Bats Out of Hell.[13][14]

Hannah attempted one more novel, which underwent several title changes. In a 2003 interview with the Austin Chronicle, Hannah called it Last Days. A 2005 interview with Hannah in The Paris Review featured a manuscript page from the then-titled Long, Last, Happy. Then a 2009 issue of the literary journal Gulf Coast featured an excerpt from the novel, titled Sick Soldier at Your Door.[15] The same excerpt was printed in the June 2009 issue of Harper's Magazine.[16] A subsequent interview with Tom Franklin in the Summer 2009 issue of Tin House revealed that Sick Soldier at Your Door had been reconceived as a collection of short stories.[17] The stories were published in November 2011 by Grove Press under the title Long, Last, Happy: New and Selected Stories.[18]


Hannah taught creative writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop,[19] Clemson University, Bennington College, Middlebury College, the University of Alabama, Texas State University, and the University of Montana - Missoula.[5][20][21] He was a frequent visiting writer at the summer creative writing seminars at Sewanee.[22]

Hannah was the director of the M.F.A. program at the University of Mississippi, where he was known as a "generous mentor".[23] Early during his tenure at the University of Mississippi, he came to class drunk and was known for "drinking heavily."[24] His students included Larry Brown, John Oliver Hodges, Bob Shacochis, Donna Tartt and Wells Tower.[5][23]


Hannah died of a heart attack[25] in Oxford, Mississippi on March 1, 2010, at the age of 67.[4] His death was just days before the 17th annual Oxford Conference for the Book, held in his hometown. Hannah and his work were the focus of that year's conference.[3]




  • Geronimo Rex (1972)
  • Nightwatchmen (1973)
  • Ray (1980)
  • The Tennis Handsome (1983)
  • Hey Jack! (1987)
  • Boomerang (1989)
  • Never Die (1991)
  • Yonder Stands Your Orphan (2001)

Story collections

  • Airships (1978)
  • Captain Maximus (1985)
  • Bats out of Hell (1993)
  • High Lonesome (1996)
  • Long, Last, Happy: New and Selected Stories (Nov. 2010)


  • "Memories of Tennessee Williams," Mississippi Review, Vol. 48, 1995.
  • "Introduction" The Book of Mark, Pocket Canon, Grove-Atlantic, 1999.


  1. ^ Obituary The New York Times, March 3, 2010; page A27.
  2. ^ a b c Kellogg, Carolyn. (March 2, 2010). "Author Barry Hannah, 67, has died", LA Times. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Oxford Conference for the Book Archived March 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b c Pettus, Emily Wagster. (March 2, 2010). "Author Barry Hannah dies at 67 in Mississippi", Associated Press. The Guardian. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Grimes, William. (March 3, 2010). "Barry Hannah, Darkly Comic Writer, Dies at 67". The New York Times. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  6. ^ Smith, Kayla. (April 23, 2013). "Have You Heard of Barry Hannah?". Deep South Magazine. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  7. ^ Weston, Ruth D. (1998) Barry Hannah: Postmodern Romantic p.106 quote: "The complex nature of Barry Hannah's humor has deeb roots in these American literary traditions, to which he brings his unique comic vision. the situational humor in his fiction, which runs the gamut from slapstick burlesque to parody and the absurd and from the malappropriate to the Gothic grotesque and macabre, [...]"
  8. ^ Barry Hannah 1942-2010 Archived March 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine from the website of Oxford American: The Southern Magazine of Good Writing
  9. ^ Wright, Snowden. (April 10, 2013). "Barry Hannah's "Lost" Novel". The Millions. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  10. ^ Ellis, Lee. (March 3, 2010). "Sabers, Gentlemen: Remembering Barry Hannah". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  11. ^ Turner, Daniel. (2012). Southern Crossings: Poetry, Memory, and the Transcultural South. University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 9781572338944. p202.
  12. ^ Howorth, Richard. (March 15, 2010). "Barry Hannah", Time Magazine. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  13. ^ Bernstein, Richard. (July 10, 2001). "Books of the Times; Giving In to the Urge To Do Bad in the South", The New York Times. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  14. ^ Bjerre, Thomas. (2007). "Heroism and the Changing Face of American Manhood in Barry Hannah's Fiction" in Bone, Martin (ed) Perspectives on Barry Hannah. University Press of Mississippi, ISBN 9781578069194. p60.
  15. ^ Hannah, Barry. (2009). "An excerpt from Sick Soldier at Your Door". Gulf Coast. 21:1. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  16. ^ Hannah, Barry. (2009). "Sick soldier at your door". Harper's Magazine. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  17. ^ Franklin, Tim. (March 2, 2010). "Barry Hannah, 1942-2010". Tin House. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  18. ^ "Barry Hannah: Long, Last, Happy: New and Selected Stories". Grove Atlantic. June 8, 2010. Archived from the original on 15 June 2010. Retrieved June 8, 2010.
  19. ^ "Faculty Archived April 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine", Iowa Writers' Workshop, University of Iowa. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  20. ^ Cobb, Mark Hughes. (September 25, 2008). "Noted writer Barry Hannah returns to UA", The Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  21. ^ Wilkes, Byron. (March 7, 2010). "Hannah and his works will long be remembered". The Meridian Star. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  22. ^ "Barry Hannah (1942-2010) Archived May 31, 2011, at the Wayback Machine", Sewanee Writers' Conference. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  23. ^ a b Steelman, Ben. (March 2, 2010). "Barry Hannah, R.I.P.". Star-News. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  24. ^ "Barry – Mississippi Sideboard". Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  25. ^ "Barry Hannah: A Southern Literary Force Dies At 67". National Public Radio. March 4, 2010. Archived from the original on 7 March 2010. Retrieved March 4, 2010.

External links

Allen Wier

Allen Wier (pronounced "wire"), is an American writer and a professor at the University of Tennessee.

Wier was born in 1946 in San Antonio, Texas and spent parts of his childhood in Louisiana and Mexico. He taught at Longwood College, Carnegie-Mellon University, Hollins College, the University of Texas, Florida International University, and the University of Alabama where he directed the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing. He held the Hodge's Chair for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Tennessee and, 2016-2019, the Watkins Endowed Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Murray State University.

In 2003, Wier was inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers, along with Barry Hannah and Yusef Komunyakaa. He is widely published in anthologies and periodicals, including The New York Times, Ploughshares, and The Southern Review. Wier was previously married to the poet Dara Wier.

Blip Magazine

Blip Magazine is the reinvention of Mississippi Review Online, a personal website put online in 1995 by the editor of Mississippi Review, Frederick Barthelme. As Blip, it is the online heir of Mississippi Review (established by Barthelme in 1977). During Barthelme's time as editor, Raymond Carver said Mississippi Review "is one of the most remarkable and indispensable literary journals of our time.". The editors working on Mississippi Review prior to 2010 moved to Blip with Barthelme after he left the University of Southern Mississippi.

Notable contributors (since 2010) include George Saunders, Marcy Demansky, Jurgen Fauth, Woody Evans, Meg Pokrass, Mary Grimm, Floyd Skloot, and others. In its previous incarnation, Blip had over 1000 stories and poems in its archive, including work by such writers as Thom Jones, Ben Marcus, Francine Prose, Padgett Powell, Barry Hannah, Tom Drury, Curtis Sittenfeld, Tao Lin, John Barth, Christine Schutt, Mary Gaitskill, Rick Bass, and Ben Neihart.

Clinton, Mississippi

Clinton is a city in Hinds County, Mississippi, United States. Situated in the Jackson metropolitan area, it is the tenth largest city in Mississippi. The population was 25,216 at the 2010 United States Census.

Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt (born December 23, 1963) is an American writer, the author of the novels The Secret History (1992), The Little Friend (2002), and The Goldfinch (2013). Tartt won the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend in 2003 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Goldfinch in 2014. She was included in Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People" list, compiled in 2014.

Esquire (magazine)

Esquire is an American men's magazine, published by the Hearst Corporation in the United States. Founded in 1933, it flourished during the Great Depression under the guidance of founders Arnold Gingrich, David A. Smart and Henry L. Jackson.

Fellowship of Southern Writers

The Fellowship of Southern Writers is a literary organization founded in 1987 in Chattanooga, Tennessee by 21 Southern writers and other literary luminaries. The group meets in every odd-numbered year, usually during the Chattanooga Arts & Education Council Conference on Southern Literature.

In 2007, the fellowship formalized its own structure, electing its first board of directors and hiring its first executive director, Susan Robinson.

Gordon Lish

Gordon Lish (born February 11, 1934 in Hewlett, New York) is an American writer. As a literary editor, he championed many American authors, particularly Raymond Carver, Barry Hannah, Amy Hempel, Rick Bass, and Richard Ford. He is the father of the novelist Atticus Lish.

Hanna (surname)

Hanna, Henna, or Hannah is a surname arising from multiple surnames, including a Scottish surname meaning that one is a descendant of the lowland Clan Hannay, and alternatively an Arabic surname (حنّا, particularly among Arab Christians in Lebanon, Egypt and Syria) deriving from the Arabic name of the apostle John.

Jared Hegwood

Jared Hegwood is a Pushcart Prize nominated Mississippi author who studied with the Barthelme brothers at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. He won the Joan Johnson award for fiction in 2007 for his short story "Valero", and has written for the United States Navy's Naval Oceanographic Office at the Stennis Space Center. He has published fiction alongside Barry Hannah in The Yalobusha Review. He was, along with John Wang, Tao Lin, and Karin Lewicki, an early contributor to Juked.

He is an English professor at Augusta University.

Mississippi College

Mississippi College (MC) is a private Baptist college in Clinton, Mississippi. Founded in 1826, MC is the second-oldest Baptist-affiliated college in the United States and the oldest college in Mississippi. With more than 5,000 students, Mississippi College is the largest private university in the state.

Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters

The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters (MIAL) is a privately funded foundation created to recognize annually the greatest accomplishments in art, music, literature, and photography among Mississippians. The idea was conceived by, among others, former Mississippi Governor William Winter, Dr. Cora Norman, Dr. Aubrey Lucas, and Dr. Noel Polk in 1978, and the first awards were given out in 1980. Nominations for these awards may be made only by registered members of the Institute. The winners are chosen by a jury of prominent academics in each of the seven fields: Fiction, Non-fiction, Visual Art, Concert Musical Composition, Popular Musical Composition, Photography, and Poetry. The ceremony is held in a different Mississippi city each year. Past winners have included Walker Percy, Ellen Douglas, Ellen Gilchrist, Richard Ford, Larry Brown, Rick Bass, Lewis Nordan, Beverly Lowry, Donna Tartt, Clifton Taulbert, Barry Hannah, Willie Morris, Leontyne Price, Cynthia Shearer, Stephen Ambrose, Steve Yarbrough, Tom Franklin, Brad Watson, Shelby Foote, Natasha Trethewey, Birney Imes, Maude Schyler Clay, William Grant Still, Morgan Freeman, Christopher Maurer, Wyatt Waters, Logan Skelton, and many others. Lifetime achievement awards have been presented to artists such as Gulf Coast painter and potter Walter Anderson, Jackson writer Eudora Welty, and the distinguished film actor from the Delta, Morgan Freeman.

New Stories from the South

New Stories from the South is an annual compilation of short stories published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill and billed as the year's best stories written by Southern writers or about the Southern United States. The stories are collected from more than 100 literary magazines, including The Atlantic, Harper's Magazine, The New Yorker, the Oxford American, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and The Southern Review. Shannon Ravenel, then the editor of the annual Best American Short Stories anthology, launched the New Stories from the South series in 1986 and compiled and edited every volume until 2006. To mark the third decade of the series, Algonquin invited author and John Simon Guggenheim Fellow Allan Gurganus to be guest editor.[1]

New Stories from the South has collected the work of many prominent modern American writers, including Steve Almond, Russell Banks, John Barth, Madison Smartt Bell, Wendell Berry, Roy Blount Jr., Larry Brown, James Lee Burke, Robert Olen Butler, Andre Dubus, William Faulkner (a newly discovered story), Barry Hannah, Nanci Kincaid, Aaron Gwyn, Barbara Kingsolver, Bobbie Ann Mason, Reynolds Price, Keith Lee Morris, John Sayles, Lucy Corin, Lee Smith, and Peter Taylor.

Oxford American

The Oxford American is an American quarterly literary magazine "dedicated to featuring the very best in Southern writing while documenting the complexity and vitality of the American South."

PEN/Malamud Award

The PEN/Malamud Award and Memorial Reading honors "excellence in the art of the short story", and is awarded annually by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. The selection committee is composed of PEN/Faulkner directors and representatives of Bernard Malamud's literary executors. The award was first given in 1988.The award is one of many PEN awards sponsored by International PEN affiliates in over 145 PEN centres around the world.

Sewanee Writers' Conference

The Sewanee Writers' Conference is a writers' conference held every summer on the campus of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. The conference was founded in 1989 by director Wyatt Prunty and is funded largely by an endowment from the estate of acclaimed American playwright Tennessee Williams. The conference takes place over twelve days, during which participants attend writing workshops, readings, panel presentations, lectures on the craft of poetry, fiction, and playwriting, and numerous social gatherings.

Southern Gothic

Southern Gothic is a subgenre of Gothic fiction in American literature that takes place in the American South.

Common themes in Southern Gothic literature include deeply flawed, disturbing or eccentric characters who may be involved in hoodoo, ambivalent gender roles, decayed or derelict settings, grotesque situations, and other sinister events relating to or stemming from poverty, alienation, crime, or violence.

Texas State University MFA

Texas State MFA Homepage The Texas State University MFA Program at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, is a three-year graduate-level creative writing program in the United States. Fiction writer Doug Dorst is currently the director of the program. The faculty includes many award-winning writers.

It was cited by The New York Times as having the vision "to build a program that might rival the famed Iowa Writers' Workshop." Texas State's MFA program ranked 45th out of 131 full-residency graduate writing programs in the Poets & Writers survey for the application year 2012.As of Fall, 2018, 90% of Texas State MFA students are receiving full funding through a combination of scholarships and assistantships. M.F.A. students staff Porter House Review, the program's new literary journal (debuting Fall 2018), which will feature established and emerging writing from around the world. Working for the publication will allow students to gain experience as editors, work with visiting instructors from across the publishing industry, and earn up to six credit hours for their work.Porter House Review

The Best American Short Stories 1994

The Best American Short Stories 1994, a volume in The Best American Short Stories series, was edited by Katrina Kenison and by guest editor Tobias Wolff.

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