Visiting Writers Series: G. Willow Wilson
Willow Wilson is an American comics writer, prose author, essayist, and journalist. Her first graphic novel Cairo, with art by M.K. Perker, was named one of the best graphic novels of 2007 by Publishers Weekly, The Edmonton Journal/CanWest New, and Comics Worth Reading. The paperback edition of Cairowas named one of Best Graphic Novels for High School Students in 2008 by School Library Journal and one of 2009’s Top Ten Graphic Novels for Teens by the American Library Association.
Wilson, who first encountered comics when she read an anti-smoking pamphlet featuring the X-Men in the fifth grade, is also well known as the co-creator of the Hugo and American Book Award-winning relaunch of the Ms. Marvel title (2013-2018) for Marvel Comics starring a 16-year-old Muslim superhero named Kamala Khan who takes up the mantle after the previous Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, becomes Captain Marvel. In addition, Wilson has written for some of the world’s best-known superhero comic book series, including The X-Men, Superman, and Wonder Woman. In 2015, she won the Graphic Literature Innovator Prize at the PEN America Literary Awards.
In 2010 Wilson released a memoir titled The Butterfly Mosque about life in Egypt during the Mubarak regime, which was named Seattle Times Best Book that year. Her debut novel, Alif the Unseen (2012), was an NPR and Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and it established her as a vital American Muslim literary voice. The following year it won the (2013) World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, was a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and was long-listed for the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Wilson’s most recent novel, The Bird King (2019), is an epic journey set during the reign of the last sultan in the Iberian peninsula at the height of the Spanish Inquisition. It tells the story of Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Neil Gaiman (Good Omens, American Gods) praised her saying, “G. Willow Wilson has a deft hand with myth and with magic, and the kind of smart, honest writing mind that knits together and bridges cultures and people. You should read what she writes.”
Wilson’s work has been translated into over a dozen languages. She lives in Seattle.