Jennifer Steil

Jennifer Steil

Keynote Speaker

About this Speakers

Jennifer Steil is an award-winning novelist and memoirist who lives in many countries. She left the United States in 2006 to take a job as editor of a newspaper in Sana’a, Yemen, where she lived for four years. Her first book, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, was inspired by her Yemeni reporters. She began writing her first novel, The Ambassador’s Wife, after she was kidnapped when pregnant with her daughter. That experience became the first scene of the novel. She and her infant daughter were evacuated from Yemen after her husband Tim Torlot, a British diplomat, was attacked by a suicide bomber. They lived in Amman, Jordan, until his posting ended and he could join them in London. In 2012, they moved to La Paz, Bolivia. Early in her time there, Steil met Jewish Bolivians whose families had fled the Nazis in Europe during World War II. Their stories inspired her third book, Exile Music. She now lives in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The Ambassador’s Wife won the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Best Novel award and the 2016 Phillip McMath Post Publication book award. Steil’s stories and articles have appeared in the New Orleans Review, Saranac Review, World Policy Journal, The Week, Time, Life, Peauxdunque Review, The Washington Times, Vogue UK, Die Welt, New York Post, The Rumpus, and France 24.

She was born in Boston in 1968 and grew up in Groton, Massachusetts. She attended the Putney School in Vermont and studied theater at Oberlin College. After spending four years working as an actor, her frustrations with the limited range of roles available to women drove her to begin writing. She completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College and an MS in Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is currently working on a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

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