Larry Alfred Woiwode (/ˈwaɪwʊdi/; born October 30, 1941) is an American writer who lives in North Dakota, where he has been the state's Poet Laureate since 1995. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, Harpers, Gentleman's Quarterly, The Partisan Review and The Paris Review. He is the author of five novels; two collections of short stories, a commentary titled "Acts," a biography of the Gold Seal founder and entrepreneur, Harold Schafer, Aristocrat of the West, a book of poetry, Even Tide; and reviews and essays and essay-reviews that have appeared in dozens of publications, including The New York Times and The Washington Post Book World.
Woiwode's first novel, What I'm Going to Do, I Think (1969), won acclaim and received the William Faulkner Foundation Award (1970) for the best first novel of 1969. Beyond the Bedroom Wall (1975) sold over 1,000,000 copies, and was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Talking about the title of this novel, Woiwode told Alok Mishra in an interview that he wanted to suggest that a larger world of interest lay beyond the bedroom. It was because most of the novels of that time dealt with sex excessively. He has received two awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, including the Medal of Merit, awarded every six years for a "distinguished contribution to the art of the short story"; a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship and a Lannan Foundation Studio Award; the John Dos Passos Prize for a distinguished body of work, the Aga Khan Prize for short fiction, and the Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Award, the highest honor a North Dakota citizen may receive. He has published two dozen stories in The New Yorker.
Born in Carrington, North Dakota, Woiwode attended the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) for four and a half years, where he worked with John Frederick Nims and Charles Shattuck, and after serving as copywriter and voice-over and live talent for a CBS affiliate in the area he left to live in New York for five years. He returned to New York state after the death of John Gardner, and took Gardner's position as director of the Creative Writing Program at Binghamton University; he was a tenured full professor there, besides directing the Creative Writing Program. He spent several years living and working on short stories and his third novel in the Chicago area before returning to North Dakota in 1978, where he lives twelve miles outside Mott and raises registered quarterhorses.
Besides his tenure at Binghamton, he has served as Writer in Residence at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and conducted summer sessions as a professor at Wheaton College, Chicago, and the C.S. Lewis Seminars at Cambridge; he has also conducted seminars and workshops in fourteen states of the U.S., all of the Canadian provinces but British Columbia, and in England, Lithuania, and Scandinavia. His work has been translated into a dozen languages, and Johnathan Yardley of The Washington Post Book Work named Beyond the Bedroom Wall one of the 20 best novels of the 20th Century. Woiwode has published a dozen books in a variety of genres, six of which have been named notable books of the year by the New York Times Book Review. His most recent publications are two memoirs that were widely reviewed: What I Think I Did and A Step From Death. He is currently Writer in Residence at the University of Jamestown in Jamestown, North Dakota.