Catching Up with Kiley Reid '05

Kiley Reid ’05, a 2021 Salpointe Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame inductee, is an award-winning novelist whose debut novel, Such A Fun Age, has gained international attention and was listed as a New York Times bestseller.

“I've loved storytelling and writing for a long time,” Kiley said, “and Salpointe was a place where this obsession became concrete. Theater classes and productions were a wonderful introduction to dialogue, pacing and rhythms of speech. Cheerleading was a place where I learned to edit and listen to feedback and how important it is to rely on others. And my English classes were a huge source of inspiration in terms of craft and content. I will never forget Mr. Perri's chilling session on lynching in America, set to the soundtrack of Billy Holiday's Strange Fruit. And I distinctly remember Mrs. Demers explaining a critical chapter of the Odyssey and when the bell rang, cutting her off, I realized I'd completely forgotten the time and myself. This is a specific and wonderful feeling that seemed rare then but it's now a guiding principle that I strive to give my readers. Salpointe was wonderfully pivotal as an exploration in the magic of storytelling and the responsibility of an artist to unearth truths.”
After graduating from Salpointe in 2005, Kiley attended Marymount Manhattan College where she earned her BFA in acting and a minor in religious studies. She started writing her first novel while applying for graduate school. Kiley later received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she is now a creative writing instructor.
In 2019, Kiley published her debut novel, Such A Fun Age, which was longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize and won the International Book of the Year at the 2021 Australian Book Industry Awards. Within two weeks of its release, Such A Fun Age was ranked number three on the New York Times fiction list. Kiley’s novel explores the dynamic between a young black babysitter and her well-intentioned white employer. Reviews by The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR and others laud Kiley for constructing a funny and intricate plot that captivates readers while posing an examination of race and privilege in America.
Such a Fun Age is being made into a movie by Emmy winner Lena Waithe, with Kiley serving as an executive producer. Kiley continues to publish short stories while she works on her second novel. She resides in Philadelphia with her husband.

By Carissa Krautscheid

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