Maud Newton is a writer and critic. Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation (Random House, March 29, 2022), her first book, has been praised in a starred Kirkus review as “Exhaustively researched, engagingly presented, and glowing with intelligence and honesty.” And in a preview profile, Publisher’s Weekly describes the book as “a marvel: absorbing, addictive, informative.” Maud has written personal essays, cultural criticism, and fiction. Her essay on “America’s Ancestry Craze,” a seed of the book, was a Harper’s cover story. Both the book and the essay are outgrowths of her old weekend ancestry posts on her blog.

Maud has written personal essays, cultural criticism, and fiction. Beyond Harper’s, her work has appeared in the New York Times MagazineNarrative, the  New York Times Book Review, GrantaBookforum, the Oxford AmericanHumanities, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the Paris Review Daily, the New Republic, the AwlLongreadsTin House,  and many other publications and anthologies, including the New York Times BestsellerWhat My Mother Gave Me.

She has discussed ancestry with WNYC, the Dallas Morning NewsKERA’s ThinkSlate/Future TenseWisconsin Public Radio, and PEN. She has also appeared on BookTVTalk of the Nation, and Radio Open Source.Her Family Tree column for Tin House’s Open Bar was a series of brief, wide-ranging interviews with writers on family history.

Maud received the Narrative Prize for “When the Flock Changed,” a work of fiction. Her personal essay, “Conversations You Have at Twenty,” was anthologized in Love is a Four-Letter Word. She was awarded City College’s Irwin and Alice Stark Short Fiction Prize for “Regarding the Insurance Defense Attorney.” Her fiction and essays have been praised by KirkusPublisher’s Weekly, the New Yorker online, Elle, the New York Times, the Paris Review online, and others.

Maud was born in Dallas, grew up in Miami, and graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in English and law. Eventually she moved to Brooklyn, and for the past five years she’s lived on Lenape Land in Queens. She started blogging in May 2002 with the aim of finding others who were passionate about books, culture, and politics, and to establish an informal place to write about her life and family. Within a few years, her site had been praised, criticized, and quoted in the New York Times Book ReviewForbesNew York Magazine, the Washington Post, the London Times, Entertainment WeeklyUSA Today, the New York Times, the The Guardian, the Telegraph, the The Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily NewsPoets & Writers Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New YorkerBook Magazine, London’s Evening Standard, the The ScotsmanSlate, the Denver Post, and Canada’s National Post.

Maud has blogged less frequently in recent years but sends her Ancestor Trouble newsletter every month (or so). You can also follow her on TwitterInstagram, and Medium. She maintains a rarely-updated Facebook page. All opinions shared on this site, and in those venues, are her own.

Her agent is Julie Barer of The Book Group. Maud is a nickname. Maud’s pronouns are she/her.


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