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Deirdre McNamer was born and raised in north-central Montana. She attended the University of Washington and received a journalism degree from the University of Montana, then worked as a daily journalist until her thirties.

In addition to Aviary, she is the author of four other novels. Her first, Rima in the Weeds (HarperCollins), won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award. One Sweet Quarrel (HarperCollins) and My Russian (Houghton Mifflin) were both New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year. Red Rover (Viking)was named to the Best Books of the Year lists of Artforum, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Rocky Mountain News


She is a recipient of a 2015 Artist’s Innovation Award from the Montana Arts Council.


Her essays, short fiction, reviews and reporting have appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, and Outside, among other venues.

She was a visiting writer at Cornell University, the University of Oregon, the University of Alabama and Williams College before joining the MFA faculty of the University of Montana’s creative writing program in 1995. She taught there until 2020 and now holds a faculty position with the Bennington Writing Seminars’ MFA program.

Deirdre McNamer chaired the fiction panel of the National Book Awards in 2011and was a judge for the 2015 PEN/Faulkner award. She lives in Missoula, Montana with her husband, writer Bryan Di Salvatore. 



McNamer has no formula, only a deep sense of human character…and a long sense of time.

- San Francisco Chronicle

Deirdre McNamer

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