Curriculum Vitae

Michael Gills
  • Distinguished Honors Professor 2012/Associate Professor/Lecturer, Honors College



  • B.A., English, University of Arkansas
  • M.F.A., English/Creative Writing/Fiction, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Project: Thesis/Foolishness to the Perishing
  • Ph.D., English/Creative Writing/Fiction, University of Utah. Project: Dissertation/Why I Lie: Stories

Honors & Awards

  • “Welcome to the Authentic Trail of Tears,” Special Mention list in the Pushcart Prize XXXVII, 2013. 01/23/2013
  • Pushcart Prize, 27 nominations, 1989-2012. Pushcart Press, 12/21/2012
  • Utah Arts Prize for a Book of Essays: White Indians. 10/10/2012
  • Utah Arts Prize for the Novel, 2009. Utah Arts Established Artist Endowment in Fiction for Go Love: A Novel. 2005. Winner, Utah Arts Publication Prize. 2002. Winner, Utah Arts Book Prize. 2000. Utah Arts Prize for Fiction, First-prize short story. 1998. Judge, Marjorie Sandor. Utah Arts Council, 2010
  • One of 134 writers and scholars consulted for an The Oxford American poll to create a definitive list of the finest works of Southern literature, 2009. Oxford American, 2009
  • Yellow Shoe Fiction Series, finalist, Go Love, LSU Press. 2007. LSU Press, 2007
  • Finalist, Arkansas Porter Prize, 2003. Finalist, Utah Humanities’ Book Prize, 2003. Western Book Prize, Nominee, 2003. Why I Lie chosen by The Southern Review as a top literary debut of 2002. New Stories From the South: The Year's Best, inclusion. 1998. Larry Levis Memorial Prize for Fiction, University of Utah. 1997. Judge, Denis Johnson. Elsie Rohrbough Graduate Fellowship in Fiction, University of Utah. 1993-1997. Randall Jarrell Fellowship, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 1988-1989. Fulbright College Prize for Fiction, University of Arkansas. 1987. Felix Christopher McKean Award for Poetry, University of Arkansas. 1984. 1987. 2003


A first generation college student, Michael Gills earned the B.A. from the University of Arkansas.  He was Randall Jarrell Fellow at the MFA Program at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and received the Ph.D. in fiction writing from the University of Utah.  His first collection of short fiction, Why I Lie, was published by U. of Nevada Press/2002.  It won a  Utah Book Prize and was chosen as a top literary debut by The Southern Review.   A novel, Go Love, came out in Fall 2011 from Raw Dog Screaming Press (see reviews link for full review). 

A second story collection, The Death of Bonnie and Clyde, was published by Texas Review Press in February 2012, the title story of which won Southern Humanities Review’s Hoepfner Prize for the best story published there in 2010.  Part one of  White Indians, a "visionary memoir" was published in fall 2013 by Raw Dog Screaming Press.  Part two is forthcoming.  A third collection of short fiction, The House Across From The Deaf School, will be published by Texas Review Press in October 2016, and a second novel, Emergency Instructions will be out in 2017 by Raw Dog Screaming Press.  Voted by his students as the Distinguished Honors Professor for 2012, Gills teaches all levels of Honors writing, including Travel Writing, and Novel Writing Workshop.



Archive.   Michael Gills Papers, Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, NC, USA.




  • Modern Language Association (MLA), member, 08/15/1993 - present
  • Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP), member, 08/15/1987 - present

In the Media

  • Washington Post Book World: In 'Purple Jesus,' backwoods lowlifes fueled on moonshine By Eric Miles Williamson Friday, January 7, 2011; 11:27 PM Set in the backwoods town of Cordesville, S.C., Ron Cooper's second novel, "Purple Jesus," features a 400-pound woman; a pistol-packing, revenge-bent beauty named Martha; a half-witted romantic named Purvis, who is in love with Martha; a white-lightning-drinking monk named Brother Andrew, who has taken a vow of silence and expresses himself primarily with a deadly bow and arrow; and a host of shack-dwelling inbreeds in need of serious dental work. The novel opens with a redneck ritual: the gutting and ransacking of a recently dead person's house. Purvis is tearing out the walls with a crowbar, looking for Armey Wright's stash of cash, all the while cursing at Armey, who sits rotting in a chair with a small-caliber bullet hole in his head. What follows is a white-trash tale of greed, lust, drunkenness and violence. We get country baptisms in muddy, critter-infested creeks, propane tanks, single-wides, cheap beer and cheaper men and women, rusted pickup trucks firing on only a few cylinders, glue factories that grind up dead animals (and people), Rexall drugstores, Bible-toting hypocrites and plenty of tattoos. We've seen antecedents to Cooper's story and characters before: Erskine Caldwell's "Tobacco Road," Faulkner's "Sanctuary," Cormac McCarthy's Tennessee novels, Chris Offutt's "Kentucky Straight," Barry Hannah's "Yonder Stands Your Orphan" and Michael Gills's "Why I Lie." But though we've had our share of splendid chroniclers of America's good ol' boys, we've rarely had them rendered by a philosopher like Cooper, and perhaps never by an author with such a keen ear and unflagging precision. 01/07/2011. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic...
  • The Huffington Post Anis Shivani Posted: June 28, 2010 01:22 PM The New Henry Miller Speaks Out: Interview With Eric Miles Williamson, Author of 'Welcome to Oakland' Eric Miles Williamson is the author of five critically acclaimed books: East Bay Grease (Picador, 1999), Two-Up (Texas Review Press, 2006), Oakland, Jack London, and Me (Texas Review Press, 2007), Welcome to Oakland (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2009), and the forthcoming 14 Fictional Positions (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2010). Shivani: There are very few books about the real working class in American fiction, and this has always seemed to be the case, with the rare exception. Nearly all fiction addresses the comfortable middle class. Why is this so? Williamson: I'd say there have always been books about the American working class. What's Moby Dick if not a great working-class novel? A group of hardworking sailors enslaved by their position in life, working for the bossman Ahab. It'd be easy to see Huck Finn as a working-class novel as well, except Huck and Jim are even lower on the social ladder than workers, a white trash orphan and his runaway slave friend. To be sure most American fiction addresses the middle class--and, for that matter, most fiction of the Western world addresses the middle class. After all, it's the middle class that usually reads and writes the books. There are plenty of authors writing what you call working-class fiction. Larry Fondation writes about the underbelly of Los Angeles. Dagoberto Gilb writes about working class Mexicans. Michael Gills's characters are poor white trash from the Ozarks, as are Marc Watkins'... 07/28/2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anis-shivani/the-new...


  • French, basic.

Geographical Regions of Interest

  • United States of America. The south--Southern Lit.