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Daniel Hayes was born in Riverside, California, in 1955, and brought up in nearby Claremont and Newport Beach. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1978, with a degree in sociology. In 1989, he received an MFA degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, writing his thesis under the directorship of John Edgar Wideman. He taught English and creative writing at the University of California, Los Angeles, from 1989 to 1998, before moving to San Francisco, where he currently lives. Besides fiction, he has also written scholarly articles on autobiography and psychoanalysis; and in 1995 he received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for his academic work.

Hayes has published two books, both with Graywolf Press: a short-story collection, Kissing You, in 2003; and a novel, Tearjerker, in 2004. His short stories have appeared in various publications, including TriQuarterly, Massachusetts Review, Glimmer Train, Western Humanities Review, Story, and The Los Angeles Times Magazine. His story, "Twenty-Six Hours, Twenty-Five Minutes" was included in Full Frontal Fiction: The Best of Nerve.com, and also recorded as part of an audio CD, Nerve: Sweet and Vicious. He has received writing fellowships from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, the Helen Wurlitzer Foundation, the Henfield Foundation, and the Edward Albee Foundation. In 1991, he received a Pushcart Prize for his story, "What I Wanted Most of All."


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