See how small a thing it is that keeps us apart?



Scott Blackwood is the author of two novels, a story collection, and two narrative nonfiction books. His most recent novel SEE HOW SMALwon the 2016 PEN USA Award for Fiction, was named a best book of 2015 by NPR and an “Editor’s Choice” pick by The New York Times. His previous novel WE AGREED TO MEET JUST HERE  earned him a 2011 Whiting Writers’ Award, the AWP Prize for the Novel, the Texas Institute of Letters Award for best work of fiction, and was a finalist for the PEN USA Award in fiction. The New York Times called his first book IN THE SHADOW OF OUR HOUSE  “acute, nimble stories…an impressive, accomplished debut.” Scott, a former Dobie-Paisano Fellow and OMI Writer’s Residency recipient, has published stories and creative nonfiction in American Short FictionGettysburg Review, TriQuarterlyBoston ReviewSouthwest ReviewThe New York Times,  Chicago magazine, and been anthologized in Janet Burroway’s Imaginative Writing.  

Scott’s two narrative nonfiction books THE RISE AND FALL OF PARAMOUNT RECORDS, VOLUMES I & II—published by musician Jack White’s Third Man—tell the curious tale of a white-owned “Race record” label that began in a Wisconsin chair factory and changed American popular music forever, giving rise to some of the most influential Black voices of the 20th Century—Ma Rainey, Jelly Roll Morton, Alberta Hunter, Louis Armstrong, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Charley Patton. Blackwood was nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award for his writing on Volume I and featured on NPR’s Weekend EditionSound Opinions, and in The New York TimesThe Los Angeles TimesRolling Stone and elsewhere. Scott’s nonfiction story “Here We Are” was nominated for a  2016 National Magazine Award for best narrative feature writing.

Scott has called both Chicago and Austin home. He currently teaches in the MFA program at Southern Illinois University. This year (2017-2018) he’s on leave as a visiting professor at the University.of North Texas. Summer 2018 he’ll be teaching nonfiction for the University of New Orleans summer program in Cork, Ireland. He also taught in and directed the MFA Program at Roosevelt University in Chicago, taught fiction writing at Northwestern University and at the University of Texas at Austin. He holds an MFA from Texas State University and a BA from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Excerpt from See How Small  

Excerpt from National Magazine Award nominated nonfiction “Here We Are”

For more about Scott’s novel See How Small: Interview   KUT Austin Radio Interview 

Representation: Ethan Bassoff at Massie McQuilkin Agency 

Publicity: Nicole Dewey, Little Brown & Company, VP and Executive Director of Publicity 212-364-1204 /





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Read See How Small Excerpt 

Winner of the 2016 PEN USA Award for Fiction 

“A brutal, necessary, and near perfect novel” — NPR’s “Best Books of 2015″ selection  

New York Times Book Review “Editor’s Choice” Pick 

Amazon Editor’s  “Spotlight” Best Book of the Month January 2015 

People Magazine, Best New Books 2015    

Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review 

“Superb…in prose that’s as fine as any being written by an American author today, Blackwood plumbs the depths of a story that is alternately haunting, terrifying, and achingly tragic —Ben Fountain 

“Blackwood takes the most devastating story imaginable and lifts it—heart and soul—into something transcendent” —Peter Orner author of Love and Shame and Love 

“Rarely has a novel ever captured so well the psychic landscape of trauma, which is rendered as a series of visions, ruminations and endless, helpless suppositions…Scott Blackwood’s extraordinary novel, See How Small, is disturbing, disorienting, courageous and beautiful”— Sydney Morning Herald

“Instead of a decisive close to a horrific crime, there is only remembrance; and in the case of this thought-provoking novel, remembrance fused with literary invention and at times even grace”  New York Times Book Review  

“Mesmerizing…. In lyrical, often dreamlike prose, Blackwood illuminates the nature of grief and the connections among the living and the dead”Kim Hubbard, People Magazine   

“A genre-defying novel of powerful emotion, intrigue, and truth” Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review  

“A thoughtful portrait of a grieving town.”―Joumana KhatibNew York Times Book Review  

“In this radiant retelling, rather than connecting the dots…the author trains his brilliant microscope on each one, enabling us instead to glimpse infinite possibilities…brilliant”Atlanta Journal Constitution

“Ambitious…Blackwood’s novel has a delicate lyricism” London Times  

“Lyrical and elegiac”Chicago Tribune

“Blackwood’s short, shard-like chapters cleverly reflect the jagged emotional fragmentation of his characters”London Daily Mail

“Haunted and haunting …with characters rendered so convincingly you think about sending cards of condolence or calling with advice on the investigation”— Daniel Woodrell 

“To write or speak trauma is, in this exceptional novel, to try to speak another language…See How Small takes up the territory of novels such as Room [and] The Virgin is disturbing, disorienting, courageous and beautiful”—Sydney Herald 

“A vivid and astonishing novel”—Margot Livesey

“Through rapid-fire chapters…Blackwood explores the ways we use story and memory to help ourselves cope with devastating loss and trauma…. Throughout this stirring narrative sweep constant fires…. A powerful telling”Dallas Morning News

“A brilliant, heartbreaking meditation on grief, parenthood and time” — Book Page 

 “A rich tapestry of human failing and hopeful striving”  Shelf Awareness Starred Review 

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Order See How Small (Fourth Estate /HarperCollins U.K. edition) here 

We Agreed To Meet Just Here



Winner Whiting Award for Fiction 

Winner AWP Prize for novel 

Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Fiction 

This little gem of a book puts on lush display Scott Blackwood’s talent for measuring and connecting the previously un-connectable in lived experience, and making of it an entirely new whole which we immediately accept as true, natural, exhilarating, even inevitable” Richard Ford

Entertainment Weekly “Criminally Underrated Book” 

Order We Agreed To Meet Just Here 


In The Shadow of Our House: Stories 



Powerful. Ambitious…beautiful music, line by line. —Andre Dubus

In the Shadow of Our House is an award-winning collection of nine thematically linked stories where people live on the cusp of the past and present, saddled with the knowledge that “sometimes what you’re thinking can’t be dovetailed with what you do.” “If you had lived long on our street, and drunk late at our parties…” Read More from NY Times ”First Chapters” Excerpt Order In the Shadow of Our House 




The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Volume 1  



NPR’s Weekend Edition Story   

2015 Grammy Nomination  

“The true revelations arrive in the narratives… [which] bring the musical past to life in such a surprising and revealing way…”   —LA Times    

A creative nonfiction narrative about the curious rise of Paramount Records, a white owned “race music” label which began in a Grafton, Wisconsin chair factory and created arguably the greatest archive of popular music in American history. Paramount–despite its cheapness, bumbling ways, and willful ignorance of its black audience–recorded such early jazz and blues greats as Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Ma Rainey, Alberta Hunter, Ethel Waters, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, Skip James, and Son House, and changed American music and culture forever.

Read More  in Rolling Stone  

Order The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records Volume I

The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Volume 2  


Paramount II Cover Photo


Read Excerpt in TriQuarterly here 

A creative nonfiction narrative about Paramount’s final astonishing years and the unexpected rise of the Delta Blues. By 1928, after launching the recording careers of Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Blind Lemon Jefferson, King Oliver, Alberta Hunter, Ma Rainey and Blind Blake, Paramount was entitled to a breather. But just as it seemed the label might be losing steam, it began a second act that threatened to dwarf its first. From 1928-32, the label embarked on a furious run for the ages, birthing the entire genre of Mississippi Delta blues recordings by the likes of:  Skip James, Charley Patton, Son House, Tommy Johnson, Rube Lacy, Ishman Bracey, The Mississippi Sheiks, and the incomparable Geeshie Wiley & Elvie Thomas, who it turns out, were not what they seemed. This is the story of how it happened, moments of decision and accident that changed how America thought of itself.  The paradoxical story of how Paramount—a company only interested in profits—created the richest repository of the young nation’s greatest art form as well as intimations of all that we’ll never hear, America’s ghost voices.

Link to NPR Weekend Edition Story

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press & events


See How Small




 We Agreed to Meet Just Here

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“Criminally Underrated Books”

Entertainment Weekly, April 2014

Richard Ford

This little gem of a book puts on lush display Scott Blackwood’s talent for measuring and connecting the previously un-connectable in lived experience, and making of it an entirely new whole which we immediately accept as true, natural, exhilarating, even inevitable. He is a lovely sentence writer, and this first novel sparkles with invention.

San Antonio Express-News

As we enter debut novelist Scott Blackwood’s intimate world, Winnie Lipsy is sitting in her backyard in Austin, staring up into a tree. She’s not bird-watching, but imploring her 8-year-old son to please come down before he falls and breaks his arm. Isaac falls, breaks his arm. That’s about the only thing predictable about the Texas writer’s revelatory debut novel, which builds on the solid foundation of Blackwood’s 2001 story collection “In the Shadow of Our House.” What’s most amazing about “We agreed to meet just here” — the title pops into the hit-and-run driver’s mind when Natalie, smiling, “explodes in the Blazer’s highbeams” — is Blackwood’s trenchant and expedient use of ideas and language.

Dallas Morning News

Scott Blackwood’s new novel, We Agreed to Meet Just Here, manages somehow to be both spare and all-encompassing, a mystery that delves into the very nature of disappearance: Once gone, is anyone ever really gone? Blackwood proves himself a master of connection; he depicts with almost miraculous brevity (the book is only 164 pages long) how seemingly unrelated events, actions, even thoughts, dangle strings that eventually get caught up in one another and weave a community together…


In the Shadow of Our House: Stories

New York Times Book Review

THE title story in this impressive and accomplished debut collection imagines the emotional ache of … MORE >


Blackwood penetrates life’s shadows with disarming candor, piercing the gloom Of contemporary domesticity in … MORE >


A strong debut collection about family disasters and betrayals explores ordinary dramas extraordinarily. Forced change … MORE >

The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records Volume 1 

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Los Angeles Times 

It’s an impressive object, the Cabinet [of Wonder], with the heft of a hellhound, but the true revelations arrive in the narratives held in this first of two volumes, released in November. The market is filled with so-called definitive box sets. Few, however, bring the musical past to life in such a surprising and revealing way…

National Public Radio’s  Weekend Edition  

Interview and Reading s from The Rise and Fall on NPR.

NPR’s Sound Opinions 

Interview with Dean and Scott Blackwood.

Rolling Stone 

New York Times


Through scrupulous research, audacious design, and ostentatious packaging, this two-volume collection’s first installment does precisely what the best box sets intend to do—add proper deference and context to music that remains vital and significant…at once, it’s a history lesson, a dance hall, a bandstand, and a smoky blues parlor, all tucked neatly into one sturdy box. This is the Cabinet of Wonder, indeed… In the beginning and, really, throughout most of the label’s history, the executives at Paramount and its parent company did not seem to understand the important trove they were building…That same oblivion resulted in the incomplete records and the destruction of the label’s archives when it went belly-up, a scene vividly limned by Scott Blackwood in the wondrous [Paramount book]. Such retrospective ignorance makes the trove of The Rise and Fall that much more remarkable, valuable, and edifying. This is almost-lost history, faithfully restored.

Austin Chronicle 

Blackwood provides less an exhaustive history than a poetic, character-driven account that evokes a mood and context through which to understand Paramount’s impact and the tableau of Chicago amidst the Great Migration. Building from the academic work of co-producer Alex van der Tuuk’s 2003 book Paramount’s Rise and Fall, Blackwood casts a scene and atmosphere, his lyrical sketches of artists and settings inspiring more potential stories to be further pursued than answers…the text becomes a threshold for entry into the music and the exhaustive catalog of period artwork in the cabinet. An extraordinary project…

The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records Volume 2