Kaya Oakes is the author of five books, most recently including The Nones Are Alright (Orbis Books, 2015) and Radical Reinvention (Counterpoint Press, 2012). The Defiant Middle: How Women Claim Life’s In Betweens to Remake the World, was published by Broadleaf Books in 2021. Her sixth book, on the limits of forgiveness, is forthcoming in 2024.
Kaya’s essays and journalism have appeared in The New Republic, Slate, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Sojourners, National Catholic Reporter, Commonweal, Religion Dispatches, Tricycle, On Being, America, and many other publications. She also writes a quarterly column for The Revealer on forgiveness. She was the co-founder of the arts and culture magazine Kitchen Sink, and is currently on the editorial board of the website Killing the Buddha. Kaya received Religion News Association’s award for best commentary in 2021.
Kaya has spoken on topics related to religion, writing and feminism at Fordham University, Syracuse University, Creighton University, DePaul University, Notre Dame University, Villanova University, University of Southern California, San Francisco State, Cal State University East Bay, St. Mary’s College, University of the Pacific, The Glen Workshop at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, The Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin University, and The Search for Meaning Festival at Seattle University. She has also spoken and led writing workshops in church basements, community centers, homeless shelters, and in senior centers. She was one of a select number of international journalists who traveled to the Rome and the Vatican in 2016 to study writing on religion in politically turbulent times.
Since 1999, Kaya has been a faculty member in the College Writing Programs at UC Berkeley, where she teaches creative nonfiction, composition, and research writing. She has also been a distinguished visiting writer in nonfiction at St. Mary’s College as well as guest faculty at Bellarmine University and The Jesuit School of Theology at the Graduate Theological Union. Kaya was born and raised in Oakland, California, where she still lives.