Mona Simpson was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin and moved to Los Angeles as a young teenager. Her father was a recent immigrant from Syria and her mother was the daughter of a mink farmer and the first person in her family to attend college. Simpson went to Berkeley, where she studied poetry with Josephine Miles, Thom Gunn and Seamus Heaney. She worked as a journalist before moving to New York to attend Columbia’s MFA program. During graduate school, she published her first short stories in Ploughshares, The Iowa Review and Mademoiselle. She stayed in New York and worked as an editor at The Paris Review for five years while finishing her first novel, Anywhere But Here
. After that, she wrote The Lost Father
and A Regular Guy
. She returned to California in 1994 and wrote Off Keck Road
, My Hollywood
, which was conceived in the Santa Monica Public Library, on one of the big long tables.
Her work has been awarded several prizes: a Whiting Prize, a Guggenheim, a grant from the NEA, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a Lila Wallace Readers Digest Prize, a Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, Pen Faulkner finalist, and most recently a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Mona lives in Santa Monica with her children and Bartleby the dog.