about the instructor

Tony Tulathimutte

  Photo by  Jolene Siana

Photo by Jolene Siana

Hi. My debut novel Private Citizens was called “the first great millennial novel” by New York Magazine. A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, I've written for The New York Times, VICE, WIRED, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, N+1, Playboy, The Paris Review, and others (complete list here). I've received a Whiting Award and a O. Henry Award, and was a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

For over seven years I’ve taught fiction at every level: the MFA programs at UMass Amherst, Southern New Hampshire University, St. Francis College; undergrads at the University of Iowa; the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop and Catapult; online courses; independent tutorials. I’ve spoken at Harvard, Columbia, Colgate, Vassar, Brooklyn College, and St. John Fisher College.

Several books I've edited have been published, including Jenny Zhang’s Sour Heart, Rebekah Frumkin’s The Comedown, and R.O. Kwon’s The Incendiaries.

For examples of my writing advice, see my column Publish or Perish and the line-editing guide "To The Quick." My essay on MFA programs and NYC publishing is at Salon.

Blurbs from Former Students who were in no way coerced into praising me

Tony is a genius. One semester with Tony was better than my entire MFA program.
CRIT is fast-paced, career-focused, and devoid of clichéd dictums. Tony is a phenomenal reader and dispenses incisive, actionable feedback.
CRIT is the most rigorous workshop I’ve participated in. It was also the most joyful writing experience I’ve had. Tony is not only brilliant but funny and approachable, preparing seminars that were delivered with a deep knowledge of literary criticism, incisive wit, and an appreciation for dumb internet humor. My class in particular had such a great rapport that we continued to meet and share our work. For that alone, CRIT was more than worth the investment.
I was endlessly impressed with Tony. His knowledge of the literary canon, as well as contemporary literature, is incredibly detailed. With a syllabus that goes beyond writing to include submitting to journals, managing finances, working with agents and publishers, and forming a writing group, Tony’s class gave me the tools to pursue a career in writing and the confidence that it could be done. Whereas other classes made me write better, Tony’s class made me a better writer.
Two of the best things about learning from Tony are 1) you never know what he’s going to say and 2) he’s usually right. Tony is an intense reader and generous critic. If you want a thorough critique that gets to the point you’ve found the right man. I still regularly look back at my notes from his classes.
Tony has a phenomenal ability to help you reimagine your story and take it where YOU want it to go. He is also the most pragmatic workshop leader I’ve ever had: his goal is getting your work out into the world and giving you the tools to make it as a working writer.
Tony’s meticulousness to detail and eye for good writing was most helpful to developing my technique as an emerging writer. He offered sophisticated and effective advice that refined my style immensely.
Tony’s line edits were the most valuable I’ve ever received in a workshop. His sharp wit, uncompromising standards, and hyperliterate sermons on craft and the culture at large pushed me to be a better writer and thinker.
Tony is a master editor and instructor. His generous, painstaking feedback on my workshop pieces made it clear where I needed to take them, and hearing his remarks on other people’s work was no less illuminating. Through scrupulous line edits and thoughtful commentary, Tony improves his students’ work while respecting their vision.
The attention Tony gave to reviewing my manuscripts and the pages of detailed feedback he wrote in response were generous in their insights and perhaps the most well-articulated and specific I have ever received from a workshop instructor—to say he knows a lot about literature and craft does not say enough. I left every class wanting to write, and I’ve always found that to be the true mark of a great writing teacher.
What stands out about Tony as an instructor is his infectious enthusiasm and his no-bullshit generosity. He’s as averse to puffery when engaging your work as he is careful in separating, say, negative racial undertones in otherwise exemplary literature (much of which, contemporary and classical alike, he seems to have at his fingertips). It’s tough to walk away from his workshop not energized about writing—the craft, and its possibility.
A generous, insightful, and whip-smart teacher, Tony offered stellar technical guidance and boundless encouragement at each of our meetings. There’s no question in my mind that Tony represents the vanguard of writing teachers and mentors working today.
Tony is a meticulous editor, honest teacher, and has a command over the English language that rivals the best writers of our time.
Tony is an excellent workshop leader. Rigorous, organized, consistent, and thoughtful. He has a more structured style and tends to focus on what needs fixing rather than praise, so his workshops are especially useful for those who are seeking true criticism.
Of all the workshops I’ve taken over the years, Tony’s was undoubtedly the best. His feedback was incredibly detailed and thoughtful. He gave me helpful references (in terms of similar stories I should study) and a lot of thoughts to guide me through my next draft. I could not recommend him enough.
I appreciated how rigorously Tony examined the aims of your particular work, and how fluently he offered ways to develop what was truly interesting and uncomfortable about it.
Workshopping with Tony means stepping up your game, because the guy is like an encyclopedia of literature—albeit one who’s funny, forthright, and personable. I walked away not only knowing how to proceed with my manuscript, but with a heightened ability to articulate what’s working and not working in a given piece of fiction.
Tony brings a clear, steady critical eye to every piece that comes before him. He’s the real deal when it comes to a writing teacher: thoughtful, articulate, and you can bank on him being right. By far the best fiction workshop I’ve had. Don’t miss out.
In a world dominated by boring stuff like MFA v NYC, it’s pretty great to have a workshop leader who can reference goatse, Bloodborne and Dostoyevsky in one coherent sentence. It’s writers like Tony that will keep the workshop formula relevant, fresh and, crucially, the most important time of your development.
The class I took with Tony at Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop was eye-opening. Tony judges your work on its own terms, covering plot, structure, tone, and style with incisive detail. He doesn’t just tell you what works and what doesn’t, he tells you why. Not only was I able to dramatically improve my stories based on his feedback, I was given new insights into the craft of writing.