Marian Palaia

Marian PalaiaEducation

B.A., The Evergreen State College, 1984
M.A., Creative Writing, San Francisco State, 1990
M.F.A., Fiction, University of Wisconsin, 2012


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Marian Palaia's Official Site

Biographical Note

I've been writing fiction, and some non-fiction, since Pete Sinclair got ahold of me in 1981. Just sold my first novel last November to Simon and Schuster, and it will be coming out in the spring of 2015. It is called The Given World, and is about The Vietnam War generation and collateral damage. Since I left Evergreen, I have lived in San Francisco, Missoula, Montana, Madison, Wisconsin, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City and a very small village in Nepal. I've driven trucks and tended bar, and tried to stay out of serious trouble, mostly successfully.

Publication Types


Latest Publication

The Given World,  forthcoming--2015 from Simon and Schuster

Publication Excerpt

She had a real name but Darrell didn’t know that yet. It didn’t matter. He’d looked for her a few times—trying to stay inconspicuous, which wasn’t necessarily easy if you were so obviously rez-bred—and finally there she was, sort of like he remembered, sort of like someone he’d never laid eyes on.

It had rained, and stopped, and now a flimsy rainbow arced over the small town just south, more stretch of the imagination (the rainbow, although the same could be said for the town) than something you’d believe could harbor a flock of happy little bluebirds. And she wasn’t anywhere near the end of it. He couldn’t picture her in a fairy tale of any sort anyway—little hippie white girl with crazy green eyes, a pocketful of peyote, and a secret. Untamed and intangible. He wanted to know if he’d made her up, or if maybe the whole thing wasn’t just some sort of contact high.

Classes were over, the schoolyard was empty and she was alone, pacing around the buckled asphalt basketball court with her head down, chin almost touching her chest, setting one foot in front of the other heel-to-toe through the puddles, barefoot. The slight breeze fanned a broken swing to barely perceptible motion; it dangled by a single chain. Another had been wrapped around the high bar a few times, and now hung looped there like a rusty snake with a broken back. The slide tilted to one side, its original red paint barely visible amid all the corroded metal. He stood outside the chain-link fence, which was eight-feet high for some old and expired reason he’d bet no one would remember now, but he was so tall and long-armed he could easily rest his hands on the top of it. It couldn’t have been that high to keep anybody in, since it gapped in places and didn’t even have a proper gate. Maybe, he thought, it was there to keep dumb wild things out.

His dark hair kept blowing across his face. He tried a few times to tuck it behind his ear but the wind would just catch it again, until finally he pulled a rubber band out of his pocket and bound it in a quick braid.

“Hey,” he said, not loud, almost a croak, but she heard. She had just taken a corner and was moving away from where he stood; she stopped but didn’t turn. He wondered if she knew it was him, thought there was a chance she’d remember.

He’d come from his uncle’s house on the reservation, thirty miles away, and the rain he’d hitchhiked through was welcome but early. He knew and everyone else knew it would turn to snow at least once more before the alfalfa and the wheat, the wildflowers and the grass came up again. Before long—and way too soon—the summer dust would cake over the aching green, a color that appeared and disappeared so quickly it was a new revelation every year.

Additional Publications

"Cu Chi," Virginia Quarterly Review, Fall 2012
"The Last Place She Stood," TriQuarterly, Spring 2013

How did Evergreen help you in your career?

Evergreen gave me permission to be creative, in a million different ways. Eventually I funneled most of it into writing.