Michael Thomas

Acclaimed Novelist & Memoirist
Winner of 2009 IMPAC Dublin Award


"What a novel, and what a writer. Michael Thomas is brilliant, and Man Gone Down is riveting. Every page vibrates with love and anger and hope." —Elizabeth Gaffney, author of Metropolis


“The narrator’s hard-bitten realism and Thomas’s blues-dirge-y storytelling instincts keep the narrative thrumming…. [A] jazzy, complicated literary work.” —People


Michael Thomas is the author of Man Gone Down (Grove/Atlantic, 2007),a beautifully written, insightful, and devastating first novel that follows a 35-year-old African-American man, broke and estranged from his white wife and three children, who has four days to keep his family afloat and reclaim his stake in the American Dream. Donna Seaman wrote, "Thomas has written a rhapsodic and piercing post-9/11 lament over aggression, greed, and racism, and a ravishing blues for the soul's unending loneliness." Man Gone Down received a stellar review on the cover of the New York Times Book Review: "Thomas knows how the odds are stacked in America. He knows the unlikelihood of successful black fatherhood. He knows that things are set up to keep the Other poor and the poor in their place. More than anything else, he knows how little but also—fortunately—how much it can take to bring a man down."

The book was selected as one of the Times Book Review's top five novels of the year, as well as a New York Times Notable Book, and a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book. In June 2009, Thomas was awarded the prestigious IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, one of the most lucrative literary prizes in the world—his novel was selected from 145 books nominated by libraries around the globe, of which four were from the US. "The IMPAC Dublin award is often described as 'the largest and most international' literary prize in the world after the Nobel" (NY Times). 

In 2014, Thomas will publish a memoir, The Broken King, about four generations of men in his family. An eloquent and charismatic speaker, Thomas easily addresses a wide variety of topics.

NY Times Op-Ed, "I Was Not Michael Jackson"


Thomas received his BA from Hunter College and his MFA from Warren Wilson College. Currently, he is a full-time professor of English at Hunter College. Born and raised in Boston, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and children.


About THE BROKEN KING (Memoir, forthcoming 2015)
Michael Thomas’s extraordinary new book, The Broken King, traces the lives of the men in his family against the backdrop of the last century-and-a-half in American history. From Reconstruction to the Jim Crow South and the Civil Rights movement, Thomas explores fathers and sons, lovers and beloved, trauma and recovery, race and deracination, success and failure, soccer and the Boston Red Sox in a beautiful and unique memoir. Reminiscent of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Thomas delivers a series of powerful vignettes reaching back to his grandfather who, though trained as a pharmacist, could never find work as one; his father, the president of his class at Boston University, an artist and philosopher who was an unsuccessful businessman and a failed parent; his estranged brother’s lawlessness; and his own two sons’ relatively privileged and safe living in Brooklyn today.

About MAN GONE DOWN (Novel, 2007)
On the eve of his thirty-fifth birthday, the unnamed black narrator of Man Gone Down finds himself broke, estranged from his white wife and three children, and living in the bedroom of a friend’s six-year-old child. He has four days to come up with the money to keep the kids in school and make a down payment on an apartment for them in which to live. As we slip between his childhood in inner city Boston and present-day New York City, we learn of a life marked by abuse, abandonment, raging alcoholism, and the best and worst intentions of a supposedly integrated America. This is a story of the American Dream gone awry, about what it’s like to feel preprogrammed to fail in life and the urge to escape that sentence.

IMPAC Judges Citation:
“We never know his name. But the African-American protagonist of Michael Thomas’ masterful debut, Man Gone Down, will stay with readers for a long time. He lingers because this extraordinary novel comes to us from a writer of enthralling voice and startling insight. Tuned urgently to the way we live now, the winner of the International Dublin IMPAC Prize 2009 is a novel brilliant in its scope and energy, and deeply moving in its human warmth.”