Ling Ma

Ling Ma
  • Department of English

I’m primarily a fiction writer who’s interested in various genres and literary modes. My debut novel Severance (FSG, 2018) consists of seemingly disparate parts: apocalyptic thriller, twentysomething coming-of-age roman a clef, immigration narrative, and office novel. My work finds inspiration in Kafka’s writings, 90s/00s zine and blog traditions, and most popular culture, particularly TV shows and movies.

Severance received the Kirkus Prize, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2018, and was named a “Best of 2018” title by NPR, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Elle, and others. My writings, both fiction and nonfiction, have appeared in Granta, Playboy, Vice, Chicago Reader, Ninth Letter, Buzzfeed, and more.

The best part of just starting out as a writer is the freedom to make anything you want, to adhere to or to break whatever rules you want. In the end, however, we are only ourselves, and I hope to help students realize their distinct voices, explore their obsessions, and just as importantly, learn to enjoy the process. I advise on both beginning projects and more advanced theses.


  • “Advanced Fiction Workshop: Alternate Storylines,” Spring 2019
  • “Technical Seminar: Structure,” Spring 2019
  • “Thesis Workshop,” Winter 2019
  • “Fundamentals of Creative Writing: Testimony,” Fall 2018
  • “Advanced Fiction Workshop: Surfacing the Unseen,” Spring 2018
  • “Beginning Workshop: The Anxiety of Getting Started,” Spring 2018
  • “Technical Seminar: The First-Person Voice,” Winter 2018

Selected Publications

  • “Shark Fin Dinner Party,” Playboy, Summer 2018
  • “On Crying at Playboy,” Buzzfeed Reader, Summer 2018
  • “Severance,” Vice, Spring 2018
  • “Los Angeles,” Granta online, Fall 2015
  • Excerpt from Chinese Bible (now Severance), Graywolf Press, Spring 2015
  • “Fuzhou Nighttime Feeling,” The Texas Observer, Fall 2014
  • “Yeti Lovemaking,” Unstuck, Winter 2012
  • “The Scientist,” Ninth Letter, Spring 2012
  • “The Palmer House,” ACM (Another Chicago Magazine), Winter 2011
  • “Game Changer,” Chicago Reader, Fall 2010
  • “Losing Her Museum,” Chicago Reader, Winter 2009


MFA, Cornell University, 2016. AB, University of Chicago, 2005. Teaching at Chicago since 2017.