Ling Ma

Ling Ma by Anjali Pinto
Assistant Professor of Practice in the Arts
Taft 205
Research Interests: Contemporary art, first-person accounts, Kafka studies, late capitalism, speculative literature, work and office narratives, zine culture


I’m primarily a fiction writer who’s interested in the narrative tropes and genres of popular culture. My debut novel Severance (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018) consists of seemingly disparate parts: apocalyptic thriller, coming-of-age roman àclef, immigration narrative, and office novel. I’m interested in issues of labor and money, of the body, the evolution of cities, and the supernatural and surreal as it speaks to our secret fantasies and projections. My work draws inspiration from a variety of sources: the work of Kafka, the 90s/00s zine scene and blog traditions, contemporary art, and reality TV, to name a few. 

Writing Profile

Severance received the Kirkus Prize, the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. It was a finalist for the Pen / Hemingway Award, and named a New York Times Notable Book. My writings, both fiction and nonfiction, have appeared in Granta, Playboy, Vice, Chicago Reader, Ninth Letter, Buzzfeed, and more.

Work with Students

The best part about starting out as a writer is the freedom to make anything you want, to experiment and take risks, adhering to or breaking whichever rules you choose. In the end, however, we are only ourselves, and it is the work we produce, even in its roughest drafts, that ultimately informs us what we’re trying to do. I hope to help students mine their distinct, subterranean voices, channel their obsessions, and most importantly, learn to enjoy the process. I advise on both beginning projects and more advanced theses.


  • Advanced Fiction Workshop: Alternate Storylines
  • Technical Seminar: Structure
  •  Fundamentals of Creative Writing: Testimony
  • Fiction Thesis Workshop
  • Advanced Fiction Workshop: Surfacing the Unseen
  • Beginning Workshop: The Anxiety of Getting Started
  • Technical Seminar: The First-Person Voice

Selected Publications

  • Severance, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018.
  • “Shark Fin Dinner Party,” Playboy, Summer 2018.
  • “Severance,” Vice, Spring 2018.
  • “Los Angeles,” Granta online, Fall 2015.
  • “Fuzhou Nighttime Feeling,” The Texas Observer, Fall 2014.


Subject Area: Fiction