Samuel Ashworth's fiction, essays, and criticism have been published in Barrelhouse, Catapult, Eater, The Times Literary Supplement, the Brooklyn Rail. He writes the monthly "Dispatches from the Swamp" column for The Rumpus, and his travel writing has appeared in Roads and Kingdoms. He is the recipient of a 2017 Artist Fellowship from the DC Council on the Arts and Humanities.
Born and raised in Manhattan, he attended Trinity College Dublin before receiving his B.A. from Columbia University. He is currently in the M.F.A. in fiction program at George Mason University, where he has been awarded the Dan Rudy and Mary Robert Rinehart prizes for fiction, and Alan Cheuse prize for Nonfiction. He also received the inaugural Travel Research Award from the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center, which sent him to France to work in restaurant kitchens in Summer 2017. He lives in Washington, DC, and is working on a novel about the life and death of an American chef, told in the form of an autopsy.

You can find him being overly enthusiastic about things on Twitter at @samuelashworth.


Columnist for The Rumpus

Here in the District, where even the strip clubs play CNN these days, knowledge is the only power we have. They call us a swamp, but what we are is a hive of very prickly nerds. I’ve only been here for five years, but what I’ve learned is that we’re all a bunch of Tyrion Lannisters: we drink and we know things.

"Dispatches from the Swamp" (From June 2017)

Fiction for Barrelhouse

With a bang, the cockpit door flew open. There, suddenly, were Alice and the short fat Cuban, his knife pressed anew to her neck, and now—now they went bananas. The ovation would have made the rafters of the Metropolitan Opera buckle; indeed, the plane itself began to judder and rattle.

"Issue 17" 

Fiction for Catapult

There are no old men in South Sudan, so I think this one must be a ghost. He appeared in the middle of the street, in the white light carved from the darkness by a passing Land Cruiser’s headlamp. His hair is white, like a ghost’s, but I do not know why a ghost would need a cane. I do not know where he came from. No one in Juba walks outside after the sun goes down.

"The Ghost of King Solomon" (June 2016)

Criticism for Brooklyn Rail

The Parrots may not be a Great Book. It is too unkempt, too messy, too rangy in its attentions, and too ham-fisted in its attempts at symbolism. But because it is all these things, because it is rude, it is sharp, it is vulgar, and it is, at times, as beautiful as the rosy blush on an old dipsomaniac’s cheeks, The Parrots is a terrific book.

“Make Ready the Champagne Bottle.” Review of The Parrots (I Pappagalli), by Filippo Bologna (February 2014)

Criticism for Bookslut

Homeless, jobless, and partially faceless, Tim winds up convalescing at the home of his brother, Valentine, a fireman, influential member of the New York Democratic party, morphine addict, and all-around sybarite who can hardly poke his oft-broken nose into a scene without the reader's wishing the book had been all about him.

Review of Gods of Gotham, by Lyndsey Faye (May 2013)

Travel Writing for Roads and Kingdoms

The crisp warm shell was fragile as a swallow’s nest. The difference between the flimsy yellow versions flogged in mainland China and this, the real deal, was the difference between Hello Kitty and an actual cat purring and sleeping in your lap.

The Only Decent Dessert in China (August 2015)

If coffee is a stimulant, Ethiopian coffee is smoking crack out of a lightbulb fragment. It tastes like the stuff Noah used to seal up the ark.

How Not To Watch Soccer In Kenya (July 2015)

Essay for Catapult


"In Pursuit of Prodigy: The Last Samurai and Me" (August 2016)

Criticism for Times Literary Supplement

It is a strange business to review a book that is manifestly indifferent to whether it will ever be read, much less reviewed. Yet Gass’s commitment to that indifference, whatever the cost, is precisely what makes him worthy of critical attention: he is perhaps the most virtuosic author of the last century; he may also be one of its greatest failures.

"With Their Eyes Turned." (Review of Eyes and In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, by William Gass)

In fact, one of the more pleasurable sections of the book contrasts the deli’s exaltation of exquisitely spiced food, glabrous with fat and mustard, with the prim Presbyterian propriety of the 1920s, which held that the road to hell, drink, and masturbation was paved with excessive seasoning.

"Well Seasoned." (Review of Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli, by Ted Merwin)

Last Days is a book about how much it takes for us to admit our own corruption, and our complicity. It’s the opposite of a bildungsroman; it’s what we might call a demolierungroman: a novel about a young man’s steady demolition.

"Cadres and Contours." (Review of Last Days in Shanghai, by Caleb Walker)

Ndibe writes as if his purpose is higher than the creation of healthy, living fiction; the matters of accurate language, tight structure, realistic characters, and local detail fall beneath his gaze.

“Gods in a Gallery.” (Review of Foreign Gods, Inc., by Okey Ndibe)


In addition to writing, Samuel has years of experience as an editor, having worked with writers at all academic levels, on topics ranging from economics to education to the microbiology of industrial yeast production. He now works as a freelance editor and media writer for the World Bank, where he specializes in translating highly technical economic writing into articles that are accessible to a general audience. His most recent work involves projects that have been presented to the governments of Tanzania and Morocco.

References available upon request.


Samuel has taught professionally for over a decade. Currently, he teaches creative writing and literature courses at George Mason University. He is comfortable teaching a wide range of subjects, from writing to Chinese (but not, regrettably, mathematics), to students from across the world. As a Master tutor at Cambridge Coaching, he was responsible for designing and leading tutor training workshops. In Fall 2015, he taught a five-week residency to seniors at Thomas Jefferson High School, for which he conceived and taught a course built around Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. He currently teaches freshman composition and literature courses at George Mason University.

References available upon request.


Contact Sam