Jay Jennings is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in many national newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Lowbrow Reader, Garden & Gun, and Oxford American, where he was an editor from 2015 to 2021.
His most recent editing project is Charles Portis: Collected Works from the Library of America, out in April 2023. It contains the complete novels and much, but not all, other writing that was assembled in 2012 for Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany. That collection was named Book of the Year for 2012 by Books & Culture, and the New York Times Book Review called it “a thoughtfully composed selection of published work spiced with rare and fresh material.” Jennings has recently completed a screenplay, with TV writer Graham Gordy (Rectify, Quarry), adapted from Portis’s 1979 novel, The Dog of the South. He often speaks about True Grit and Charles Portis under the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read program.
Jennings’s book Carry the Rock: Race, Football and the Soul of an American City, about the Little Rock (Ark.) Central High School football team fifty years after the 1957 integration crisis, was recently reissued in a revised edition with a new author's preface by the University of Arkansas Press. The Wall Street Journal said that it "transcends the season-on-the-brink genre."
He began his writing career as a reporter at Sports Illustrated, followed by four years as features editor at Tennis magazine. While at the latter, he edited an anthology of short stories and poetry called Tennis and the Meaning of Life (Breakaway Books, 1999), which the New Yorker called “a delight—and perhaps a surprise—to those who know and care about literature.” His work has been recognized by The Best American Sports Writing annual and has appeared in the humor anthology Mirth of a Nation: The Best Contemporary Humor. A regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review, he is a two-time MacDowell Colony fellow in fiction and a winner of a fiction grant from the Arkansas Arts Council for a novel-in-progress. In 2023, he was awarded the Porter Fund Literary Prize, "presented annually to an Arkansas writer who has accomplished a substantial and impressive body of work that merits enhanced recognition."
Jennings currently lives with his wife and daughter in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was born and raised.
Jay Jennings speaks at the Clinton School on Carry the Rock.