Jewell Parker Rhodes (born 1954 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is an American novelist and educator.
Rhodes is best known for her middle grade novels, including Ninth Ward, which received the Coretta Scott King Honor Award. It is the first book in her Louisiana Girls trilogy, which also includes Sugar and Bayou Magic. Her newest book, Towers Falling, is on the Master List for the Texas Bluebonnet Award and was named one of the best young adult books of the year by Seventeen Magazine and the Nerdy Book Club. Rhodes has published six novels for adults, including American Book Award winner Douglass' Women and the Marie Laveau trilogy.
Rhodes is the Founding Artistic Director and the Piper Endowed Chair of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. She is also a professor of Creative Writing and American Literature and the former Director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing.
Rhodes was born and raised in Manchester, a largely African-American neighborhood on the North Side of Pittsburgh. As a child, she was a voracious reader. She began college as a dance major, but switched to writing when she discovered African-American literature for the first time. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Drama Criticism, a Master of Arts in English, and a Doctor of Arts in English (Creative Writing) from Carnegie Mellon University.
Her play, Voodoo Dreams, was cited as "Most Innovative" Drama in the 2000-2001 Professional Theater Season by the Arizona Republic and she is currently at work on a theatrical version of Douglass' Women.
Her work has been published in China, Korea, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Turkey, and the United Kingdom and reproduced in audio and for NPR's "Selected Shorts." She has been a featured speaker at the Runnymeade International Literary Festival (University of London-Royal Holloway), Santa Barbara Writers Conference, Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference and Warwick University, among others.
Her recent fiction and essays have been anthologized in Rise Up Singing: Black Women Writers on Motherhood (ed., Berry), In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction (ed. Gutkind), Gumbo (ed., Golden and Harris), and Children of the Night: Best Short Stories By Black Writers (ed., Naylor), among others.
- 2003: American Book Award (Douglass' Women)
- 2003: Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Fiction (Douglass' Women)
- 2003: PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award
- 2010: Parents' Choice Foundation Gold Award (Ninth Ward)
- 2011: Coretta Scott King Honor Award (Ninth Ward)
- 2014: Jane Addams Children's Book Award (Sugar)
- 2016: Summer Kids' Indie Next List (Towers Falling)
Jewell Parker Rhodes has been awarded the California State University Distinguished Teaching Award, ASU's Dean's Quality Teaching Award, Outstanding Thesis Director from the Barrett Honors College, and the Outstanding Faculty Award from the College of Extended Education. She is a member of the Arizona/International Women's Forum and a Renaissance Weekend invitee.