Greg Downs (born November 22, 1971) is the author of the Flannery O'Connor Award-winning short story collection, Spit Baths, published in 2006 by the University of Georgia Press and of the history book Declarations of Dependence published in 2011 by the University of North Carolina Press. Spit Baths has been called "masterful" and "rich and mesmerizing" by the Philadelphia Inquirer; a "founding myth for a racially integrated South" by the San Francisco Chronicle; and a "luminous new collection" by Small Spiral Notebook. Downs' stories have been published in literary magazines like the Black Warrior Review, Glimmer Train, Meridian, The Greensboro Review, Chicago Reader, CutBank, The South Dakota Review, The Southeast Review, The Literary Review, Wind, storySouth, Philadelphia Stories, Sycamore Review, New Letters, Madison Review, and Witness. He graduated from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, which awarded him a James Michener/Copernicus Society of America fellowship.
Downs, born in San Francisco, was raised in his mother's native Elizabethtown and Hyden, Kentucky; Nashville; and Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii. His writing has been called "thoroughly original and completely authentic" by fellow Kentucky native Fenton Johnson. He is the grandson of noted virologist and naturalist Wilbur G. Downs. He is a B.A. graduate of Yale University, where his advisor was Bancroft Prize-winning historian Melvin Patrick Ely.
Along with his fiction writing, Downs is also an historian, with a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where his dissertation supervisor was historian Steven Hahn. He studies 19th-century American political culture, and is an associate professor at the University of California, Davis. Declarations of Dependence was called "brilliant, imaginative, and deeply researched" by historian Scott Nelson, a "rare achievement" by historian Laura Edwards, and a "carefully crafted and deeply researched study" by Civil War historian James M. McPherson.