Madison Smartt Bell was born and raised in Tennessee; he studied at Princeton University and Hollins College. He has taught in a variety of capacities, including the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, the University of Southern Maine, Goucher College, and as a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Much of his writing, which reflects a concern with race relations, has been critically acclaimed. Bell was awarded the 1989 Lillian Smith Award for Soldier's Joy. His 1996 historical novel All Soul's Rising was nominated for both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. All Soul's Rising, which depicts the slave uprising in Haiti in the late eighteenth century, also led to his selection to the Granta's list of Best Young American Novelists. His books include The Washington Square Ensemble (1983), Waiting for the End of the World (1985), Straight Cut (1986), The Year of Silence (1987), Zero dB (1987), Soldier's Joy (1989), Barking Man (1990), Doctor Sleep (1991), Save Me, Joe Lewis (1993), and All Soul's Rising (1996). His short stories have been frequently anthologized, including selection for the annual Best American Short Stories for 1984, 1987, 1989, and 1990. Bell teaches at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland.