Creative Writing at WVU: Wild, Wonderful Writing

Christa Parravani

Christa Parravani

Assistant Professor of English

MFA, Rutgers Newark
MFA, Columbia University
BA, Bard College

Office: Colson 315

Areas of Specialization

American memoir and essay
Photographic practice, history, and theory
20th Century women’s fiction
Visual art and literature

Her: a Memoir (Henry Holt, 2013)
Women in Clothes (Viking Penguin, 2014)
My Life in Arms (TBD)

Awards and Fellowships

Amazon Spotlight Debut of the month, March 2013
Indiebound Next Pick, March 2013
Salon Best book of 2013
Wall Street Journal best book of 2013
Library Journal best book of 2013
An Oprah, People, and NPR must read book of 2013
Huffington Post best book of the last 5 years for women, 2015
Finalist for Books for a Better Life Award, 2013
Residency Fellowship, MacDowell Colony
Residency Fellowship, Byrdcliffe Center for the Arts
Mortimer Frank Travel Fellowship, Columbia University

Selected Publications

Washington Post, The Daily Mail, The London Times, The Guardian, Salon, The Rumpus, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, DAME, and Catapult.

Praise for Her

Raw and unstoppable, Her illuminates the triumph of the human spirit—both individual and shared. —Katharine Fronk – (Booklist, (Starred))

Haunting…more than a beautifully written memoir. [A] powerful and raw love letter. (The Washington Post)

Warning: Her may make you cry in a public place. Be prepared. Christa Parravani’s memoir is that rare kind of book that hits you out of nowhere, and suddenly it’s overwhelming you with cinematic swell… Parravani’s book feels so special because you can see her struggling on the page…the act of acceptance taking shape with words. (NPR)

Her instantly became my reading obsession…Parravani tackles her potentially melodramatic material with forthrightness and a flair for the darkly comic…The tone she strikes is brashly ghoulish and heart twanging, the route through her past artfully circuitous. Her invites obsessional reader behavior because Parravani has the ability to make life, even at its worst, feel magic-tinged and vital and lived all the way down to the bone…The final sentence, honest to god, made me cry. (Heidi Julavits, Bookforum)

Imagine looking in a mirror and not seeing yourself. Imagine living the rest of your life with half of yourself missing. Imagine looking at your own corpse. You don’t have to imagine: Parravani’s story makes it all clear. (Library Journal (Starred))

Christa Parravani powerfully transforms her anguish over the traumatic death of her troubled identical sister into the astonishing Her. (Vanity Fair)

A finely wrought achievement of grace, emotional honesty, and self-possession. (Publishers Weekly)

Parravani’s mesmerizing narrative tapestry…delicately probes the fragile, intimate boundaries among love, identity and loss. (Kirkus)

Full of headlong energy, Christa Parravani’s HER is reckless yet delicate, familiar yet otherworldly, precise yet with the soul of a fairytale, and deeply moving in surprising ways. (Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and The Ticking is the Bomb)

The best memoirs should come with a warning label… Her announces its challenges immediately while also establishing the voice that will pull you through the darkness of loss, memory and expiation… That she comes out the other side is never predictable—merely miraculous. (Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina)

Parravani writes about being torn apart and then about piecing her life back together, brilliantly illuminating along the way what it means to be a sister, a daughter, a wife, an artist, and—ultimately, and triumphantly—herself. (Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge)

Christa Parravani’s lyrical, no-nonsense Her ranks with the best American memoirs of the decade. This incandescent story of loving and losing one’s twin is an uncompromising love poem to the joys and dangers of shared identity, and an unforgettable treatise on addiction, trauma, survival, and triumph. (Jayne Anne Phillips, author of Lark and Termite and Machine Dreams)


Listen to Christa’s interview on NPR’s All Things Considered:

Watch Christa’s interview on PBS’s nationally syndicated, Well Read:

Read Christa’s interview with Anthony Swofford in The Daily Beast:

Read Christa’s essay in The Washington Post:

Christa’s photographic work is here:

Those who inspire me to keep going:

Joan Didion, Diane Arbus, John Berryman, Maggie Nelson, Alison Bechdel, William Styron, Vladimir Nabokov, Saeed Jones, Mary Karr, Ann Petry, Julia Margaret Cameron, Virginia Wolf, Irene McKinney, William Maxwell, James Van Der Zee, Leslie Jamison, Nick Flynn, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Jo Ann Beard, James Agee, Anne Sexton, Robert Creeley, James Salter, James Baldwin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Dorothy Allison, Tracy K Smith, Jayne Anne Philips, Louise McNeil, Joy Williams, Edgar Lee Masters.

Where you might find me:

Hiking in the forest, watching the green pass. Growing tropical flowers and trees, and then bringing them inside for winter. Fighting for the rights of survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse. Seeing in pictures; worrying over my 4×5. Dancing with Josephine.