University of Iowa

Jonathan Blum

Jonathan Blum grew up in Miami and graduated from UCLA and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He is the author of Last Word (Rescue Press, 2013), a novella, which was named one of the best books of the year by Iowa Public Radio and was featured on KCRW’s Bookworm with host Michael Silverblatt. His short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Carolina Quarterly, Gulf Coast, The Kenyon Review, Playboy, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. He has taught fiction writing at Drew University and The University of Iowa. He received a Hawthornden fellowship in Scotland and was a guest writer at the Tianjin Binhai New Area International Writing Program in China. He is also the recipient of a Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award and a grant from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. This is his eighth year teaching at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. He lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches fiction writing workshops. He can be found online at

Instructor Events

Weekend June 16 to June 17 2018

How does one create a character? And more to the point, how does one create a character who is so interesting that a reader will want to spend an entire story or novel with him? In this course, which welcomes fiction writers of all levels, we will examine how to create complex and compelling characters. We will spend part of our time discussing how to build characters in the first place—how, from the get-go, to make them as credible and distinct as we can.

Weeklong June 17 to June 22 2018

When was the last time you read a story you couldn’t put down? We all want to write such stories, but how do we do it? In this class, we will workshop short stories of up to 18 pages, with the goal of helping each writer identify and build on the strengths of his/her story. In so doing, we will discuss what makes a story irresistible. Among the questions we will consider: In what ways does this story engage and move us? Does the story have a recognizable structure that serves the writer’s artistic aims?