Joshua Ferris was born on November 8th, 1974 in Danville, Illinois (USA), and grew up in Key West in Florida. In 1996 he graduated with a BA in English and Philosophy from the University of Iowa. His first short story, »Mrs. Blue«, was published in 1999 in the »Iowa Review«. Before commencing his Masters Degree in Creative Writing at the University of California, Ferris lived for a few years in Chicago, where he worked in an advertising agency.
A Chicago advertising agency is also the setting for his début novel »Then We Came to the End« (2007). Written in the first person plural, the novel is about the absurdity of office life and the dark side of today’s working world. With plenty of irony, but not without empathy, the author deals with questions of the value of work, the relevance of work to feelings of self-worth, and the fear of unemployment. Ferris’ writing has been compared by critics with Don DeLillo. The story of the office community as protagonist is not told in a linear structure, but instead in numerous flashbacks and fast forwards. Translated into 25 languages, the novel was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the P.E.N./Hemingway Foundation Award. Further short stories followed which were published in, among others, the »New Yorker« (which also included Ferris in their »20 Under 40« list of the most promising young authors) and the »Guardian«, as well as in the anthologies »Best New American Voices«, 2007, and »New Stories from the South«, 2007. Ferris’ second novel »The Unnamed« was published in 2010. Shifting between an authorial and a personal narrative perspective, »The Unnamed« is about the successful New York lawyer Tim Farnsworth, who appears to be leading a full and satisfied life. He is happily married, lives with his wife and daughter in a large, beautiful house, he loves his work – and takes it all for granted. But he is stricken by a mysterious illness. Driven by a compulsion to quite literally run away – to run out of the house and to keep running until he collapses from exhaustion – he destroys everything in his life which he values: his family, his friendships, his professional standing, and the prosperous life he has led. With this story of a descent into the middle-class’ abyss, Ferris has written »an unnerving portrait of a man stripped of civilization’s defences« (New Yorker).
Joshua Ferris lives as a freelance writer near New York.