Maggie Messitt

Maggie Messitt (Creative Non-Fiction) | Pittsburgh, PA

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Maggie Messitt has spent the last decade reporting from inside underserved communities in southern Africa and middle America. Author of The Rainy Season: Three Lives in the New South Africa, a work of narrative and immersion journalism, Messitt lived in northeastern South Africa for 8 years during which time she was a long-form reporter, newspaper editor, and founding director of a writing school for rural African women. Since returning to the US, her essays and reportage have been published (or are forthcoming) in Creative Nonfiction, Mother Jones, River Teeth, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance magazine, among others. Messitt has a BA in Journalism & Faith, Peace, & Justice (an interdisciplinary human rights program) from Boston College and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. A 2015 Kenyon Review Peter Taylor Fellow, 2015 Scholar-in-Residence at Bowers Writers House (Elizabethtown College), and the 2016 Clayton B. Oftsad Writer-in-Residence at Truman State University, Messitt is working to complete her PhD in Creative Nonfiction and her next book, a hybrid of investigation and memoir, the story of her aunt, an artist, missing since 2009. When she’s not teaching or writing, she spends her time exploring the Rust Belt, kayaking the Ohio River, and collecting stories in places you’ll likely never visit.


The Rainy Season: Three Lives in the New South Africa (U of Iowa Press, 2015)
The Rainy Season: Three Lives in the New South Africa (U of Iowa Press, 2015)

Press & Reviews

“Whether safari travelogues or tributes to the legacy of Nelson Mandela, what most Americans read about South Africa is far more superficial than Maggie Messitt’s gritty vision of the country. In the tradition of writers like James Agee and Katherine Boo, she has immersed herself deeply in the everyday lives of people struggling with AIDS, early death, corruption, false promises, grinding rural poverty, and the daily struggle to make ends meet in a society that tourists and most foreign correspondents never see. This is a profoundly compassionate book, that truly takes you inside the lives of those in it.”
—Adam Hochschild, author, King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

The Rainy Season is a delight of closely observed detail from the lives of three memorable characters in a remote South African village. Skillfully taking us through the quiet drama of an unusually generous rainy season in the bushveld, Messitt gives an insight into a world that is key to understanding South Africa today.”
—Greg Marinovich, author, The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War

“Wise beyond her years, Messitt explores with vivid resonance the failures and triumphs of three South African people.”
Foreword Reviews

“Harnessing the power of observation in service of revelation is slow, painstaking work, but its results appear effortless in the best nonfiction. Maggie Messitt achieves this in her elegant first book… The Rainy Season is an essential history – not about those who redraw national maps, but those who persevere each day to fulfill the maps of their imaginations, of their own making.”
The Literary Review

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