Biggers, Jeff 1963-

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Biggers, Jeff 1963-


Born 1963 in OH; married; wife's name Carla; children: Diego, Massimo. Education: Hunter College, B.A.; attended University of California at Berkeley, Columbia University, and the University of Arizona.


Home—IL and Italy. E-mail—[email protected].


Travel writer, editor, radio commentator. Worked variously as a limo driver, farmhand, sports coach, community organizer, cook, teacher, and musician. Former assistant to former Senator George McGovern in Washington, DC; former personal aide to Rev. William Sloane Coffin at the Riverside Church in New York City, NY; contributor to radio, including National Public Radio's Morning Edition and Pacific News Service. Founded the Northern Arizona Book Festival and set up literary programs in the Navajo Nation.


PEN American Center.


American Book Award, 2005, for No Lonesome Road: Selected Prose and Poems; a Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism; a Field Foundation fellowship and an Illinois Arts Council fellowship.


(Editor, with George Brosi) Don West, No Lonesome Road: Selected Prose and Poems, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 2004.

The United States of Appalachia: How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture, and Enlightenment to America, Shoemaker & Hoard (Emeryville, CA), 2006.

In the Sierra Madre (nonfiction), University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 2006.

Contributor of articles to travel, literary, and music magazines and national and foreign newspapers. Contributing editor for the Bloomsbury Review.


Jeff Biggers is a writer and traveler who has journeyed all over the world. He has documented his travel experiences for magazines and radio shows and written two books that are based on two of the mountain cultures he has visited. "His books, short stories, articles, and radio programs explore the inner life of the places and cultures he has visited by weaving a complex tapestry of historical details, vignettes of daily life, profiles of local people, and geographical discovery," noted Karen Elowitt, who interviewed Biggers for inTravel Magazine Online.

Published in 2006, The United States of Appalachia: How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture, and Enlightenment to America attempts to shatter some of the pervasive misconceptions about Southern Appalachians by discussing contributions that natives of the region have made to American culture and history. When discussing his motivations behind writing about Appalachia in an interview with Elowitt, Biggers mentioned that "part of what I wanted to do was say, hey, here in our own backyard we have a vanguard region in terms of American history. Starting with the Cherokee, and continuing to the original declaration of independence, long before the Boston Tea Party happened." Also released in 2006, In the Sierra Madre "takes readers on an astonishing sojourn into a remote region," remarked Booklist's George Cohen. The book is based on Biggers's experiences living in a log cabin among the indigenous Raramuri, also known as the Tarahumara, in a remote village in the Sierra Madre, a mountainous range in northern Mexico, for a year. In addition to documenting his own experiences in the region, he also writes about the Mexican and foreign travelers who journeyed there before him.

"I'm sort of a journalist, sort of a historian, sort of a radio correspondent, and sort of a storyteller," mused Biggers in his interview with Elowitt. "I haven't really decided which one of those I'm going to be. But I think I'm mostly a storyteller at heart. I don't see myself so much as a travel writer, as a ‘traveling writer.’ I have been around the world for the last 25 years, and continue to have this wanderlust, but not so much to write stories as to be part of the travel experience and help chronicle my experience through the history I see."



Booklist, October 1, 2006, George Cohen, review of In the Sierra Madre, p. 21.

Mountain Xpress, February 22, 2006, Jon Elliston, interview with Jeff Biggers.

New Mexican, October 27, 2006, Paul Weideman, "Where Myth Is Life and Missionaries Have Yet to Prevail," interview with Jeff Biggers.

Publishers Weekly, October 24, 2005, review of The United States of Appalachia: How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture, and Enlightenment to America, p. 51.

Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2006, review of In the Sierra Madre.

Stellar, October 16, 2006, interview with Jeff Biggers.


inTravel Magazine Online, (July 25, 2007), Karen Elowitt, "Living in the Sierra Madre: An Interview with Jeff Biggers."

Jeff Biggers Home Page, (July 25, 2007).

Rolf Potts' Vagabonding Travel Writers, (July 25, 2007), interview with Jeff Biggers.