Vauhini Vara is a staff reporter at the Wall Street Journal and a fiction writer.
At the Journal, she has written about California politics for the past three years, covering Gov. Jerry Brown and his efforts to rescue the state from its worst fiscal crisis in recent history. On that beat, she was the first to break news in 2011 of the governor’s secret negotiations with Republican legislators to try to strike a tax-hike deal; the collapse of that deal eventually led the governor to go it alone in seeking a tax-hike ballot measure, which passed in 2012. She has also covered the state’s struggles to remake its prison, education and healthcare systems.
Previously, she spent four years as a technology reporter for the Journal in San Francisco and for WSJ.com in New York, first covering Oracle and other software companies during a period of intense consolidation and later inaugurating the Journal’s Facebook beat. In covering Facebook, she was the first to break news of the company’s development of what would become the iconic News Feed and Pages features. Her 2008 profile of Mark Zuckerberg was the paper’s first Page One feature on Facebook, and she was one of the first to write about privacy concerns among users of Facebook and other sites.
She has been a guest on CNN, CNBC and NPR, and her journalism has also appeared in the Seattle Times and the Denver Post.
Between her stints as a tech reporter and a political reporter, she earned a master’s degree from the University of Iowa, where she studied fiction at the Writers’ Workshop. She continues to write fiction, and her short stories have been published or are forthcoming in Tin House, Glimmer Train, Black Warrior Review and Epoch. She is at work on a novel and is represented by Elyse Cheney of Elyse Cheney Literary Associates.
She has received several awards for her journalism, including from the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Northwest Journalists of Color. For her fiction, she has received grants from the Rona Jaffe Foundation and others, and has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and a guest of the Yaddo Corporation.
Vauhini holds a B.A. in international relations from Stanford University and lives in San Francisco with her husband, the writer Andrew Altschul. On weekends, she tutors and mentors high-school students who are recent immigrants to the U.S. She also sits on the board of the Krishna D. Vara Memorial Fund, which presents an annual $2,000 scholarship to a graduate of Mercer Island High School in memory of her sister, Krishna, who passed away in 2001.