About David Payne
“I begin with what may seem a bold observation: David Payne is the most gifted American novelist of his generation.”
—The Dallas Morning News
David Payne is the NY Times Notable author of five novels and a memoir, Barefoot to Avalon, which Jay McInerney calls, “one of the most powerful and penetrating memoirs I’ve ever read; it is fiercely honest, deeply engaging, and utterly heartbreaking.”
Payne was born in Chapel Hill and grew up in Henderson, North Carolina, a small tobacco town on the fall line between the Piedmont and the coastal plain. He attended the Phillips Exeter Academy and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he graduated from with highest honors in creative writing.
After college, Payne worked as a cabinet maker and commercial fisherman while completing his first novel. Published in 1984, Confessions of a Taoist on Wall Street received the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award, became a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and was translated into several European languages.
Between 1985 and 2000, Payne lived in Manhattan and Vermont, where he wrote and published Early from the Dance, Ruin Creek and Gravesend Light. In 2000, he moved to Hillsborough, NC, where he completed Back to Wando Passo. Of this novel—Payne’s fifth—Pat Conroy wrote: “Back to Wando Passo quivers with authentic life and is so bold in concept and audacious in scope that it seems like the summing up and exclamation point of a great writer’s career. The novel contains everything.”
Payne has written for The New York Times, Libération, The Washington Post, The Oxford American and other publications and has taught at Bennington, Duke and Hollins. He is a founding faculty member in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Queens University of Charlotte. He lives in Hillsborough with his family.