Sewanee, NYTBR, & news

I’m honored to be a Fellow in Fiction at this year’s Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

I gave a reading at Dartmouth College on the last day of Pride month. Such a pleasure.

My short story “Rush” appears in the latest issue of Story. Many thanks to editor Michael Nye for the honor.

My story “404” will appear in a coming issue of Sewanee Review.

For the New York Times Book Review, I reviewed Tom Crewe’s excellent debut novel The New Life, out now from Scribner.

Happy to be back editing great fiction with the stellar team at HarperCollins!

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Esquire story, UCF MFA

I wrote a feature for Esquire‘s Summer Fiction Week, profiling queer writers Carter Sickels, Nick White, Brandon Taylor, Kristen Arnett, and Garrard Conley. You can read it online here.

At this year’s Indiana University Writer’s Conference I taught the fiction class. We focused readings and exercises on the (eternally fascinating, somewhat mysterious) question of compression in fiction, what it is, can do, and why thinking in terms of info reveal matters. It was a real treat.

Penguin Random House and creative agency Havas selected one of my stories for their cool initiative at NYC Pride, alongside work from Hannah Gadbsy, Paul Tran, Paul Mendez, Camille Perri, and David Levithan. You can read more about that here.

I’m also now an assistant professor teaching in UCF’s MFA and undergraduate creative writing programs.

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More IKYKWIA news, new projects

Jake Nevins included my story collection I Know You Know Who I Am alongside work by Garth Greenwell, James Baldwin, and James Gregor in his great piece on deception in queer literature at the New York Times.

Brandon Taylor kindly called the book “a contemporary classic” and plugged it in GQ and made it his recommendation it over at The Strategist.

R Eric Thomas generously recommended the collection on The TODAY Show. Confirmed, Hoda and Jenna saw the cover, got the pitch. If you don’t sit through the ad to watch the clip, here’s the proof, an image I risk someday getting tattooed on my face:



O, The Oprah Magazine asked me and other queer authors about the book that mattered most to them. It was basically an impossible and fabulous assignment.

Poets & Writers commissioned a series of short craft pieces; I wrote about creating queer characters who behave badly, the short-short story, braided narratives, and the massive Word file of “junk” I keep.

The Advocate named the collection an “absolute must-read” among some recent books I love.

them published my short story “How to Live Your Best Life,” written early in grad school and part of the book.

Some great writers generously took the time to interview me: Meredith Talusan at Slice, Lee Thomas at Fiction Writers Review, and Michael Colbert at Gulf Coast.

Electric Literature and Grindr named I Know You Know Who I Am a favorite book of the year. (While the Scruff marketing campaign for my book is over I have decided they’ve “woof”ed at it as well.)

them, Book Culture, and American Short Fiction asked for some story collection recommendations, which I am always good for.

I got to be in conversation with two of my favorite story writers whose debut collections knocked me flat, Mary South (You Will Never Be Forgotten/FSG) and Nicolette Polek (Imaginary Museums/Soft Skull), at BOMB Magazine. At the Brooklyn Book Festival, I was on a panel about humor in fiction with Deesha Philyaw, Marie-Helene Bertino, Sarah Gerard, moderated by Kendall Storey. (Pinch me.)

Indiana University named me a top “20 Under 40” college alum.

I’ll be teaching a fiction workshop online through Catapult next month. I taught this in the Flatiron building pre-pandemic and have enjoyed returning to the readings, very excited to get started. Conversation will orbit around the questions of what makes for a compelling narrative voice, both the unique limitations and near magical possibility of such a voice, and what voice even is.

I also had the recent honor of reading and blurbing some great books, recently released and soon forthcoming, including Celia Laskey’s So Happy for You (Hanover Square/HarperCollins), Massoud Hayoun’s Building 46 (Darf Publishers), Justin Bigos’s Double Clothesline (PANK), and Michael Koresky’s Films of Endearment (Hanover Square/HarperCollins). I was also in conversation for the launch of genius Micah Nemerever’s These Violent Delights (Harper Books/HarperCollins), a debut literary thriller I’d describe as combination queer love story and absolute, pitch-black nightmare–and will be soon for the paperback release of Zak Salih’s debut novel Let’s Get Back to the Party (Algonquin). Check them all out!

Novel to the agent. What a marathon, what a finish line.

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I Know You Know Who I Am out now! NPR, NYT, Oprah, & other blessings

My debut story collection I Know You Know Who I Am (Penguin Books) is available now wherever books are sold! You can order a copy or two (or more, please feel free) through your local independent bookstore or on Amazon.

I had the honor of being interviewed by the amazing Ari Shapiro for NPR’s All Things Considered, and our conversation aired yesterday. You can listen to it online here.

For the New York Times Book Review, Jac Jemc had some generous praise for the book, too, which was just a huge honor–“Riveting. . . Every lie reveals itself so exquisitely that the parallels become an added pleasure, as soon as we uncover the ways they diverge.”

Oprah Magazine called the collection one of the best books of February, and included it in their March print edition–in Oprah’s Reading Room.


Electric Literature‘s Recommended Reading published one story from the collection, “In the Palm of His Hand,” which is recommended by the total genius Kristen Arnett and available to read online here. I was also interviewed about the book at PAPER MagazineDebutiful, and Writers Bone.

At American Short Fiction, I interviewed the brilliant Clare Beams about her Bard Prize-winning story collection We Show What We have Learned, which you should buy through your local bookstore here, now.

Finally, I had the privilege of being in conversation with amazing writers Garrard Conley and David Ebershoff this week as well, at McNally Jackson and Books Are Magic. A thrill, and just a lot of fun.

Very grateful, very lucky. Wow. What a feeling.

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More I Know You Know Who I Am news, reviews, & book recs

I’m thrilled to share these very kind reviews of I Know You Know Who I Am, in Publisher’s WeeklyKirkus Reviews, and Booklist. Also flattering to see the book make lists, like this great one of most anticipated 2020 books at Read It Forward, 12 best books of 2020 at Elle Magazine, and best LGBT books that’ll change the literary landscape in 2020 at Oprah Magazine. If you’re so inclined, I’d love if you would pre-order from your local independent bookstore here.

I’m currently teaching a workshop at Catapult and really enjoying the class and students and their great work. What a true honor and pleasure.

At American Short Fiction, I interviewed Danielle Lazarin, author of the brilliant story collection Back Talk.

I’ve been deep in some stories and essays the past few months but mostly, amazingly, the novel, which has really started to take shape. Can’t say too much about the project just yet, but I took a few weeks off work to make headway, which has — also amazingly — yielded some (I think!) strong pages.

In other somewhat obnoxious I-can’t-talk-about-it-yet updates, I got some incredible news last week that I’m over the moon about. Excited for it, and to share that when I can.

Finally, an incomplete list of books I recently loved and that you likely will too: the essay collection Here for It by R. Eric Thomas (out in Feb), the story collection You Will Never Be Forgotten by Mary South (out in March!), Women and Honor by Adrienne Rich (an essay, but including here), In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons, We Love Anderson Cooper by R. L. Maizes, and The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams, who I will be interviewing (about her recently Bard Fiction Prize-winning collection We Show What We Have Learned) for American Short Fiction!


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I Know You Know Who I Am now available for pre-order! (& look at this cover!)

I am so excited to show you the cover for my story collection I Know You Know Who I Am, which will publish on February 11, 2020. Many thanks to the totally brilliant John Gall, who has designed many of my favorite covers, for giving this book such a sharp, colorful look.

I Know You Know Who I Am is now available for pre-order in paperback, e-book, and audio formats through your local indie bookstore here.

I edited and rewrote a good amount of the book last fall, and I’m really proud of its final form. Huge thanks to my editor and agent, Victoria and Caroline, for their brilliance and insight and patience.

Some more generous praise has come in, and I really couldn’t be more honored–

“This debut collection has a wisdom and a tapestry of language far beyond the author’s years. Loosely linked unreliable narrators remind us that we might find religion in the most unlikely places — such as the space between a truth and a lie. Kispert is unequivocally a writer to watch.” —Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light and Small Great Things

“Engrossing, unsettling, full of characters in search of their place in the world, I Know You Know Who I Am reminds me in the best possible way of the debut collections of Mary Gaitskill and Adam Haslett, in tone and talent and the promise of what will come next.” —David Ebershoff, New York Times bestselling author The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife

“If I could give the characters in Peter Kispert’s expansive, funny, and moving collection the forgiveness and recognition they seek, I would do so whole-heartedly. These unforgettable stories look head on at the spectacles we make of our lives and the impossibility of turning away from them. A talent to watch.” —Danielle Lazarin, author of Back Talk

Some more books I’ve read and loved since last posting, in no particular order: Bunny by Mona Awad, Man & Wife by Katie Chase, Circe by Madeline Miller, Lima :: Limón by Natalie Scepters-Zapico, The Editor by Steven Rowley, The Light Years by Chris Rush, The Rose City by David Ebershoff, The Caregiver by Samuel Park, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, Certain American States by Catherine Lacey, Writing Your Name On the Glass by Jim Whiteside, Going Dutch by James Gregor, and Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit.

More to come soon. Excited and nervous and stocking my freezer with many pints of cookies & cream Haagen Dazs.

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I KNOW YOU KNOW WHO I AM coming from Penguin Books!

I am so thrilled to announce that my story collection I KNOW YOU KNOW WHO I AM is coming from Penguin Books. Huge thanks to my genius, patient agent Caroline at Frances Goldin and my wonderful editor Victoria, and the whole team at Penguin. This is a dream come true, as cliche as that sounds. (So cliche in fact I nearly typed out the phrase “dream cliche.”) Per the announcement, the book is about queer characters searching for paths to intimacy, often deceiving others and themselves in an attempt to navigate their own vulnerability. (Mary Gaitskill and I share a sentence in that announcement, to give a sense of my thrill.) I wrote and workshopped the title story my first semester of the MFA, back in Fall 2013, which feels like (and I guess was?) ages ago.

And a little (very generous!) advance praise from some truly stunning writers:

“Peter Kispert’s dazzling collection is a reminder that the best fiction tells lies in order to discover truth. Here is a confident, psychologically astute new writer with  a bold new vision.”
—Garrard Conley, author of Boy Erased (watch the trailer for the movie, just out today–it will break your whole heart)

“Sometimes you read a collection and you wonder how a mere mortal wrote it because the language is so pure, the depth of emotion so profound—Peter Kispert is a wizard, creating a collection of liars and lies that will ring true in the heart of any reader. A tour de force: read this book.”
—Nick White, author of How to Survive a Summer and Sweet & Low

“Lashed by years and bound by love, the liars in this incredible debut punish themselves as their compulsions and betrayals tremble across time. Cut crosswise, their lives show these pathologies at work, just as hard and irradiating, superheated and sad, as the prose in which they’re rendered. Above all, it is Kispert’s immense talent that we come to understand, and even love, who they are.”
—Patrick Nathan, author of Some Hell

I also had the honor of speaking with Bryan and Doug, founders of Big Gay Ice Cream, and writing this profile over at GQ. They’re nearing a decade of slinging some weird cones with adventurous flavors. Like Cheeto, which is gross but apparently amazing, “gross but apparently amazing” being not quite enough to lure me into biting, as I do not eat cheese-like product, let alone real cheese. But go for it, if that’s your thing. (Weird though, to be honest, if you have not tried this and think on reflex–that’s my thing!) Anyway, click that link, if only for the gorgeous photos. Which for the record I did not take!

More news soon, but for now I’m back to a story (OK, a first paragraph) I abandoned a few weeks ago. Two teens in their sleeping bags but not sleeping, in a hot basement on a rainy summer night. Pellets of hail against an air conditioner. I have an attitude toward this paragraph that I’m in earnest trying to find in life.

A kind of deep-breath faith. Let’s see where this goes.

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