Kia Corthron is a playwright and novelist.
She is the daughter of Shirley Elaine Beckwith Corthron and James Leroye Corthron. James was born and raised on a farm outside of Farmville, Virginia. He married Shirley who—as well as their daughters and grandchildren—was born and raised in Cumberland, Maryland, located in a valley of the Appalachians on the Potomac facing West Virginia.
In 2016, Kia's debut novel, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, was published by Seven Stories Press. It was named a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice and was awarded The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Her second novel, Moon and the Mars, will be released August 31, 2021.
She is the author of numerous plays, which have been produced in New York, across the U.S., and internationally. Awards for her body of work for the stage include the Windham Campbell Prize for Drama, the Horton Foote Prize, the Flora Roberts Award, the United States Artists Jane Addams Fellowship, the Otto Award for Political Theatre, the Simon Great Plains Playwright Award, and the Lee Reynolds Award. She has also written a little television: for David Simon's The Wire (Edgar and Writers Guild Outstanding Series awards) and Tom Fontana's The Jury.
In 2018, she partnered with playwright Naomi Wallace, director Kevin Hourigan, Theater Three Collaborative, and New York Rep to produce IMAGINE: YEMEN, an evening of short plays addressing the catastrophe in Yemen and U.S. responsibility for it. Her own contribution was a nine-minute musical, the main song later animated by Charlotte Lesnick. It was screened in London at the United Nations Association-UK's We The People's Film Festival and is available on YouTube.
She has taught writing to incarcerated youth and adults, death row exonerees, veterans, the chronically ill, university students, and others.
Her writing-related travels include a two-week residency in Liberia as the country was transitioning out of its civil war under the auspices of a Guthrie Theater travel/play commissioning grant; a week in the West Bank and Gaza as part of a six-member American playwright contingent to meet with Palestinian theatre artists (with colleagues Robert O'Hara, Tony Kushner, Lisa Schlesinger, Betty Shamieh, and Naomi Wallace); and two weeks in Kimberley and Cape Town, South Africa, meeting with South African township writers, students, and others as part of a reading tour delegation organized by the University of Iowa's International Writing Program.
Corthron has lived in New York City since 1988, most of that time in Harlem.