Ling Ma

Ling Ma
Assistant Professor of Practice in the Arts
MFA, Cornell University, 2016, AB, University of Chicago, 2005
Teaching at UChicago since 2017


I am a fiction writer operating in both speculative and realist modes. My work engages with capitalism, the body, Chinese-American diaspora, and the fantastical as it speaks to our secret fantasies and projections. My work draws inspiration from a variety of sources: the work of Kafka, the horror genre, the 90s/00s zine scene and blog traditions, contemporary art, and reality TV, to name a few.  

I am the author of two books of fiction — the novel Severance (2018) and the story collection Bliss Montage (2022), both published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. My work has received a Whiting Award, the Kirkus Prize, the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award, the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and an NEA fellowship. Stories and excerpts have appeared in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, Granta, Virginia Quarterly Review, Vice, and more. 

The best part about starting out as a writer is the freedom to take risks and to make exuberant “failures.” Perhaps the initial drafts of any project seem like failures because more often than not, they don’t adhere to what we originally planned. It’s been my observation, however, that what the writer envisions as the story and the story itself are usually two different things. The drafts we produce ultimately informs us what we are trying to do. I hope to help students find ease with the seeming blindness of the creative process, and to channel their anxieties and obsessions on the page more fully. I especially enjoy advising on full, in-progress drafts and helping to surface hidden gems. 

Selected Publications

•    Bliss Montage, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022
•    “Peking Duck,” The New Yorker, 2022
•    “Tomorrow,” Virginia Quarterly Review, 2022
•    “Office Hours,” The Atlantic, 2022
•    Severance, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018
•    “Los Angeles,” Granta online, Fall 2015