The novelist Kaye Gibbons was born in Nash County, North Carolina, and took her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Her first novel, Ellen Foster, published in 1978 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill when she was 26, earned immediate critical recognition and accolades from Eudora Welty and Walker Percy. For it, Gibbons won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the Louis D. Rubin Writing Award. It has become a contemporary classic, taught in high schools and universities alongside such works as Catcher in the Rye and To Kill A Mockingbird.
She has followed up that success with the novels A Virtuous Woman (1989), A Cure for Dreams (1991), Charms for the Easy Life (1993), Sights Unseen (1995), On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon (1998), Divining Women (2004), and The Life All Around Me, by Ellen Foster(2006), a sequel to the earlier book. Her third novel, A Cure for Dreams, received the Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Heartland Award for fiction and the PEN Revson Award. In 1998, Ellen Foster and her second novel, A Virtuous Woman, were chosen together as Oprah Book Club selections, returning those early titles for another period on the New York Timesbestseller list; all her novels remain in print. Her novels are regularly translated into French, German, and other languages, and the French government has recognized her critical reputation with the Legion d’Honneur.
She also recently completed and edited for publication The Other Side of Air (2006), a novel that had been left unfinished at her death by Gibbons’s friend Jeanne Braselton. Gibbons’s ninth novel The Lunatics’ Ball will be published later this year by Harcourt.
Gibbons lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her three daughters, one currently a student at the University of South Carolina.