Michael Gills
  • Distinguished Honors Professor, Professor/Lecturer, Honors College
  • Professor (Lecturer), Honors College

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


  • 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...

Professional Service

  • The Texas Review. Role: Book Reviwer. Book Review/Ron Cooper's PURPLE JESUS. 03/01/2011 - present

Internal Service

  • Member, Honors Policy Board. Board member, 01/15/2014 - present. College service.
  • Thesis Mentor. Honors Thesis Mentor/Director, 08/24/2012 - present. College service.
  • Honors Scholarship Committee. Evaluator, 03/15/2011 - present. College service.
  • Participated as a faculty member in the internal review of the University of Utah Honors College. Faculty Participant, 01/28/2011 - present. College service.
  • Participated as faculty member in external review of the University of Utah Honors College. Faculty Participant, 01/28/2011 - present. Department service.
  • Compiled and submitted materials to committee for Review/Honors 2010/Writing in a Research University. Review Submission/Contact, 12/01/2010 - present. Department service.

Community Partnership

  • Honors 2010. Collaborative Creative Writing Workshop/Friendship Manor Retirement and Disability Center. This is an ongoing workshop that facilitates creative writing and community engagement between Honors Students and the retirees of Friendship Manor. 01/14/2011 - present