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Kim Barnes

Distinguished Professor Emerita

Mailing Address


Kim Barnes taught creative nonfiction writing and fiction writing.

  • M.F.A., Creative Writing, University of Montana-Missoula, 1995
  • M.A., English, Washington State University, 1985
  • B.A., English, Lewis-Clark State College, 1983

Kim Barnes was born in Lewiston, Idaho, and, one week later, returned with her mother to their small line-shack on Orofino Creek, where her father worked as a gyppo logger. The majority of her childhood was spent in the isolated settlements and cedar camps along the North Fork of Idaho’s Clearwater River. She was the first member of her family to attend college and holds a bachelor's in English from Lewis-Clark State College, a master's in English from Washington State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. "In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country," her first memoir, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, received a PEN/Jerard Fund Award, and was awarded a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award. Her second memoir, "Hungry for the World," was a Borders Books New Voices Selection. She is the author of three novels: "Finding Caruso; A Country Called Home," winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Fiction and named a best book of the year by The Washington PostKansas City Star, and The Oregonian; and "In the Kingdom of Men," a story set in 1960s Saudi Arabia, listed among the Best Books of 2012 by the San Francisco ChronicleThe Oregonian, and The Seattle Times.

She has co-edited two anthologies: "Circle of Women: An Anthology of Contemporary Western Women Writers" (with Mary Clearman Blew), and "Kiss Tomorrow Hello: Notes from the Midlife Underground by Twenty-Five Women Over Forty" (with Claire Davis). Her essays, poems, and stories have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including The New York TimesWSJ onlineThe Georgia Review,Shenandoah, Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly, Oprah Magazine, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. She is a former Idaho-Writer-in-Residence, a recipient of the Governor’s Arts Award, and teaches in the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Idaho. She has three grown children, one dog, and lives with her husband, Robert Wrigley, on Moscow Mountain.

For more information, visit her website at:

  • Creative writing: fiction and nonfiction
  • Memoir


  • In the Kingdom of Men, (novel), Knopf 2012.
  • A Country Called Home (novel), Knopf 2008; Vintage 2009; large-print edition, Point Publishing, 2009.
  • Kiss Tomorrow Hello: Notes from the Midlife Underground by Twenty-Five Women Over Forty. Doubleday 2006 (ed. with Claire Davis).
  • Finding Caruso (novel). New York: Putnam/Marian Wood Books, 2003; Berkley Signature 2004.
  • Hungry for the World (memoir). New York: Villard, 2000; Anchor, 2001.
  • Odemarker (In the Wilderness).  Stockholm: Norstedts Forlag, 2008.
  • In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country (memoir). New York: Doubleday, 1996; Anchor, 1997.
  • Circle of Women: An Anthology of Contemporary Western Women Writers. Kim Barnes and Mary Clearman Blew, editors. New York: Viking Penguin, 1994; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001. 

Periodicals and Anthologies:

  • “Spokane Is a Coat: 1978” (essay), Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal, Winter 2015; and Brief Encounters (an anthology of short nonfiction), edited by Judith Kitchen and Dinah Lenney, W. W. Norton, 2015.
  • “The Art and Absence of Reflection in Personal Nonfiction: Or, What is the Why?” (essay), The Far Edges of the Fourth Genre: An Anthology of Explorations in Creative Nonfiction, edited by Sean Prentiss and Joe Wilkins, Michigan State University Press, 2014.
  • “On Covering” (essay), The Los Angeles Review, Fall, 2013.
  • “At the Eye” (essay), Humanities Washington, September, 2012; Iron Horse Literary Review, 2014.
  • “Why I Fish” (essay), Astream: American Writers on Fly Fishing, edited by Robert Demott, Skyhorse Publishing, June, 2012.
  • “What Mad Men Means to Me,” Wall Street Journal Online, April 22, 2012.
  • “That Fragile Membrane, the Heart” (essay), The New York Times, Nov. 15, 2009.
  • “Contemporary Notes from the Last American Frontier (essay), forthcoming in West of 98, an anthology edited by Russell Rowland Lynn Stegner, 2010-2011.
  • “Mad in Love” (essay), forthcoming in O Magazine, October 2009.
  • Tribute to Carol Houck Smith, The Idaho Review, 2009.
  • “The Ashes of August” (with interview) in Creating Nonfiction: A Guide and Anthology (eds. Becky Bradway and Doug Hesse, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009).
  • “The Wages of Sin: A Personal History of Economics,” an essay in The Secret Currency of Love: The Unabashed Truth About Women, Money, and Relationships (ed. Hilary Black, William Morrow Publishers, 2009).
  • Original essay on influence of Toni Morrison and excerpt from A Country Called Home in The Sincerest Form of Flattery: Contemporary Women Writers on Forerunners in Fiction (eds. Jacqueline Kolosov and Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum, Lewis-Clark Press, 2008).
  • “On Place,” The Writer, November 2007.
  • “My Fair Student,” an essay in The Honeymoon’s Over:  Women on Love and Marriage (eds. Sally Wofford-Girand and Andrea Chapin, Warner Books, 2007)
  • "Work," an essay in Short Takes (ed. Judith Kitchen, Norton, 2005) and Iron Horse Literary Review (2006).
  • "An Apartment of Her Own," an essay MORE Magazine  (July/August 2006) and Kiss Tomorrow Hello: Notes from the Midlife Underground by Twenty-Five Women Over Forty, Doubleday, 2006.
  • "Almost Paradise," an essay in High Desert Journal (Spring 2005);Landscapes with Figures: The Nonfiction of Place (Robert Root, editor, University of Nebraska); and Borne on Air (Mary Clearman Blew and Phil Druker, editors) Eastern Washington University Press, 2009.

  • PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction 2009 (A Country Called Home)
  • Marie Claire magazineNovember Book Club pick, 2009 (A Country Called Home)
  • The Washington Post: Best Books of 2008 (A Country Called Home)
  • The Oregonian: Best Northwest Books of 2008 (A Country Called Home)
  • Kansas City Star: Best Books of 2008 (A Country Called Home)
  • Book-of-the-Month Club main selection/100 Bestsellers, Fall 2009(A Country Called Home)
  • Idaho Writer-in-Residence, 2004-2007
  • KTVB “Seven’s Selections”: Finding Caruso, 2003
  • Pushcart Prize for “The Ashes of August” (essay), 2002
  • Idaho Commission on the Arts Fellowship, 2001
  • Borders Books New Voices selection, Hungry for the World, 2001
  • Finalist, Heekin Group Foundation Fellowship for a novel-in-progress, 1998
  • Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize (Autobiography/Biography), 1997
  • Finalist, PEN/Martha Albrand Award, 1995
  • New Visions Award Finalist for In the Wilderness, Quality Paperback Book Club, 1997
  • Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award for In the Wilderness, 1997
  • Idaho Library Association, Honorable Mention for Literary Merit/Idaho Book Award, 1997
  • Academy of American Poets Prize, University of Montana, 1995
  • PEN/Jerard Award for an emerging woman writer of nonfiction, 1995
  • Idaho Commission on the Arts Fellowship, 1991

Teaching Honors and Awards:

  • Award of Excellence, University of Idaho Alumni Association, 2006.
  • Honorary Distinguished Visiting Professor, Oregon State University-Cascades, 2006.
  • Lewis-Clark State Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1997.

M.F.A. Creative Writing

English Department

Physical Address:
200 Brink Hall

Mailing Address:
English Department
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 1102
Moscow, Idaho 83844-1102

Phone: 208-885-6156


Web: English

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