Kalisha Buckhanon

Kalisha Buckhanon

Kalisha Buckhanon’s first novel, Upstate, won an American Library Association Alex Award and was nominated for the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award in Debut Fiction. Terry McMillan selected her to receive the first Terry McMillan Young Author Award in 2006. A recipient of a 2001 Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship and an Andrew Mellon Fellow, Buckhanon frequently teaches writing and speaks throughout the country. She has a M.F.A. in creative writing from New School University in New York City, and both a B.A. and a M.A. in English language and literature from the University of Chicago. She was born in 1977 in Kankakee, Illinois.



  • Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Kalisha Buckhanon's novel Upstate, an absolutely stunning, powerful coming of age novel filled with tragedy, struggle, love and triumph—a modern The Color Purple. Set in New York in the 80's and 90's, Upstate tells the story of two young lovers, Antonio and Natasha, torn apart by tragedy and struggling to survive against all odds. When a horrific tragedy sends Antonio to jail, their worlds turn upside down.


Q & A

1. What do you like to do in your free time?
I'm going to be in a PhD program and writing so I don't have much free time!  But I'm studying acting and theatre, and I love to watch great films.  I also like spending time with my family and friends.
2. What kind of music do you like to listen to? Why?
I love all music.  I'm a music junkie- from classical to world to rock to reggae to old school R&B.  My father was a DJ at parties on the side, and he loved music, so I got used to having it around all the time. I have to have music playing at all times when I'm driving or writing.  And all of my friends have great taste in music so I'm constantly being introduced to new artists.
3. What's your all time favorite movie? Why?
No all-time favorites because I love movies too much, but right now I'd say Closer, Love Jones and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind because they're all offbeat romantic tales.  I'm the consummate hopeless romantic!
4. What's your all time favorite novel and/or writer? Why?
Sula is my favorite novel because it most reminds me of the people I grew up around.
5. What do you like best about being a writer?
The freedom to use an infinite number of words to create any world you want.



Kalisha Buckhanon

In the same vein as her critically acclaimed debut novel, Upstate, Kalisha Buckhanon again shares an emotionally beautiful story about today’s youth that magnifies the...



Kalisha Buckhanon

"Baby, the first thing I need to know from you is do you believe I killed my father?"So begins Upstate, a powerful story told through letters between seventeen-year-old Antonio...