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Clifford Thompson's books include What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man's Blues (2019), which Time magazine named as one of the "most anticipated books" of the season, and which NPR called "captivating."


He is the author and illustrator of the graphic novel Big Man and the Little Men, which is "slim in size and substantial in impact," in the words of the Times Literary Supplement. Thompson is a painter and, since 2020, a member of Blue Mountain Gallery in New York City. (See the Paintings page.) His first solo show was held at Blue Mountain in the spring of 2023.


Thompson  received a Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction in 2013 for Love for Sale and Other Essays, published by Autumn House Press, which has also published his memoir, Twin of Blackness (2015).

His essay "La Bohème," published in The Threepenny Review in 2022, was selected for inclusion in the 2024 Pushcart Prize Anthology.


His personal essays and pieces on books, film, jazz, and American identity have found homes in publications including The Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, The Times Literary SupplementThe Threepenny Review, The Iowa Review, Commonweal, Film Quarterly, Cineaste, Oxford American, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Best American Essays 2018. He is the author of a novel, Signifying Nothing. For over a dozen years he served as the editor of Current Biography, and he has taught creative nonfiction writing at The Bennington Writing Seminars, Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University, Queens College, and  New York University.  Since 2015 he has been a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities. He lives in Brooklyn.

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