Manuel Muñoz received his BA in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard College in 1994 and an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University in 1998, where he was mentored by the Chicana writer Helena María Viramontes. He is a first-generation college graduate and is often invited to speak with Latino/a students at two- and four-year institutions across the country.
Muñoz writes about California’s Central Valley, where he was born and raised. He often considers how gay men and their families negotiate their lives in a rural space and about the complicated relationships that many Valley residents have with its racial politics and its limited economic opportunities.
He is the author of two short-story collections, Zigzagger (Northwestern University Press, 2003) and The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue (Algonquin Books, 2007), which was shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. His first novel, What You See in the Dark, was published by Algonquin in 2011. His stories have appeared in several journals, including Glimmer Train, Epoch, Boston Review, and Massachusetts Review, and his work has been included in both The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature and The Heath Anthology of American Literature. His New York Times op-ed “Leave Your Name at the Border,” about the anglicizing of Mexican names, has been frequently anthologized.
Muñoz has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (2004) and the New York Foundation for the Arts (2008), as well as two O. Henry Awards (2009 and 2015). In 2008, he received a Whiting Writer’s Award. He served as a juror for the 2011 O. Henry Awards and for the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award in Fiction.