Tayari Jones was born in Atlanta, GA in 1970. She lived there for most of her life. With the exception of the year she lived in Nigeria, she lived there until she finished Spelman College in 1991. After Spelman, she went to the University of Iowa to pursue a Ph.D. in English.
After earning a Masters, she decided that she wanted to do something more hands-on, she moved to Prairie View, TX where she taught Developmental Reading. As a teacher, Tayari spent three years encouraging her students to follow their dreams. She realized that it was time to start taking her own advice.
In 1996 she decided to go back to graduate school: this time, to study creative writing. A chance meeting with Jewell Parker Rhodes afforded Tayari the opportunity to work toward a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing. With only a promise from Ms. Parker Rhodes, she drove two thousand miles to accept a scholarship to Arizona State University.
Leaving Atlanta, a novel based on her experiences living in Atlanta during the Atlanta Child Murders, was her Masters thesis