Jess Walter

We Live in Water (2013)

Beautiful Ruins (2012)

The Financial Lives of the Poets (2009)

The Zero (2006)

Citizen Vince April, 2005

Land of the Blind A Novel (2003)


Every Knee Shall BowNonfiction (1995)

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Books

We Live in Water (2013)
"Captivating ... devastating ... funny because it's true, and horrible because it's true, and funny because it's horrible, and so on, forever. Fortunately, Walter is a bighearted man who excels at writing about other bighearted, if broken, men. That generosity of spirit, coupled with Walter's seeming inability to look away from the messy bits, elevates these stories from dirges to symphonies." Allison Glock, New York Times Book Review

"Stories that twist and plumb, delivering unexpected laughs while playing with what it is we think we know ... Walter has emerged as one of the country’s most dazzling novelists ... so freakishly, fiendishly good, it isn’t fair." -- Ken Armstrong, Seattle Times

"A slender, clean, and beautiful collection ... Walter allows his characters, particularly in the way they speak (and the street dialect they employ), to show us, rather than tell us, about them." -- Noah Charney, Bookslut

"Walter's got a great ear and a genius for sympathy with America's new dispossessed." -- Alan Cheuse, NPR's All Things Considered

"Terrifically crafted, sometimes funny, and often heartrendingly grim ..." -- Ethan Gilsdorf, Boston Globe

"A bad-ass collection ... gritty, big-hearted." Ben Percy, Esquire

"Jess Walter is as talented a natural storyteller as is working in American fiction these days ... the admirably intentioned to the downright brilliant ... these stories have both zip and heart, muscle and soul." Michael Lindgren, Washington Post

"The economy of dialogue, the snap, the reserves the characters summon in hopes of making a go of it yet, bespeak a serious generosity on the part of the author. Walter loves these guys, and it shows ... The standout story is the title piece, whose sadness and brutality and slow march toward quiet disaster had me in physical terror." -- Nancy Rommelman, The Oregonian

"Walter is a kind of William Kennedy of the Northwest, training his eye on the forlorn locales and hard-luck losers rolled over by the American economy on its way down ... Black humor is what we expect from Jess Walter. What is different is that the stories give us a sense of the writer's heart we haven't gotten from the parade of bright novels." -- Marion Winik, Newsday

"Darkly funny, sneakily sad, these stories are very, very good. You know the way Web sites recommend books by saying if you liked this, you’ll like that? The algorithm for this debut collection is straightforward: if you like to read, you’ll like this book. " - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"With a signature blend of wicked humor and heartbreaking tenderness, Walter’s intense stories speak directly to the contemporary American experience... Wildly entertaining and thought-provoking fiction from a prodigiously talented writer." - Booklist (starred review)

"Straightforward and funny ... A witty and sobering snapshot of recession-era America." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Mr. Walter brings (his) outlook to short-story writing easily, and with a vengeance ... his most bleakly funny, hard-edge book in years." - Janet Maslin, New York Times

"Each word is perfectly placed ... Walter’s semiserious ode, “Statistical Abstract for my Hometown of Spokane, Washington” ... brings his first story collection to a smashing end." - Jane Ciabattari, Daily Beast

"Brims with humanity. A-" Entertainment Weekly

"Gritty, pitch perfect ... wrings enlightenment from dark realities." -- People

"Funny, insightful and thought-provoking." -- Carolyn Lamberson, The Spokesman-Review

"A great collection, in fact, and an important contribution to the literature of our region." -- Alison Hallett, Portland Mercury

"Walter nails the characters, nails the individual downward spirals and nails these uncertain and often unkind post-modern times ... trenchant and true observations of a society that is not taking care of its own." -- Barbara Lloyd McMichaels, Bellingham Herald

"Vintage Walter ... Quirky. And Fun. Buy." -- USA Today

"Though he offers flashes of humor, he seems most at ease and in command when he's working in a naturalistic, contemporary setting, one that he can describe with effectively spare prose, and in an empathetic yet unsparing voice." Adam Langer, San Francisco Chronicle

"Dark, comedic ... The stories in We Live In Water aren’t cautionary tales so much as satire on the pure, sorry foolishness of humankind — how clueless yet hopeful we can be, even when we’re at fault." Connie Ogle, Miami Herald

"Along with Richard Ford, he has perhaps the sharpest eye in American fiction for the messiness, and craziness, of contemporary life ... These stories, crafted, as always, in his swift, elegant, urgent prose, make Walter worthy to stand with the best around." Rory Runnells, Winnipeg Free Press

Beautiful Ruins (2012)
"Jess Walter has already proven that he’s one of our great comic writers ('Financial Lives of the Poets'), a cerebral postmodernist ('The Zero') and a savvy plotter of thrillers ('Citizen Vince'). Now he has his masterpiece, 'Beautiful Ruins,' an interlocking, continent-hopping, decade-spanning novel with heart and pathos to burn, all big dreams, lost loves, deep longings and damn near perfect." -- David Daley, SALON

"A near-perfect rendezvous ... a novel whose decade- and continent-hopping ingenuity expertly scratches the seasonal itch for both literary depth and dazzle ..." -- ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY (A-)

“Jess Walter … is a genius of the modern American moment … As always in Walter, there's a lot to laugh at amid the tragedy, and a lot to think about … you're gonna have fun with this novel.”--Susan Balée, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

"A monument to crazy love ... deeply romantic (with) vividly etched characters." -- Janet Maslin, NEW YORK TIMES

"Poignant, comical and marvelous … a mix of satire and love story." – Tom Nolan, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

"Wonderfully sprawling ... vividly draws a world both tender and cutthroat, where ambition battles reality, daydreams fight doldrums and sometimes win." -- Royal Young, INTERVIEW MAGAZINE

"Superb … Walter makes each character memorable … the verve and enthusiasm of this novel, from its let's-go-everywhere structure to the comedy in the marrow of its sentences, are wholly life-affirming." – Mark Athitakis, MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE

"Walter is a prodigiously gifted writer. His sentences nearly sing … what unfolds is ambitious, and a lesser writer could never have engineered such masterful jumps through time." -- Christopher Bollen, LA REVIEW OF BOOKS

"Lively prose, sharp transitions and an entertaining cast of characters." -- Allegra Goodman, WASHINGTON POST

"... a great read ... Too much contemporary literary fiction suffers from what I call the "last third problem." … Jess Walter's "Beautiful Ruins" shows novelists how it is done ... a beautiful novel. " -- Anne Trubek, CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER

"Ambitious ... (with) an ensemble of memorable characters ... Beneath Walter's black comic's mask beats the brain of an ethical philosopher and the heart of a romantic." -- Mary Ann Gwinn, SEATTLE TIMES

"A witty, sharply observant writer ... Walter's having so much fun with this stuff it becomes infectious ..." -- Jeff Baker, OREGONIAN

"A brilliant, madcap meditation on fate ... Walter’s prose is a joy—funny, brash, witty and rich with ironic twists. He’s taken all of the tricks of the postmodern novel and scoured out the cynicism, making for a novel that's life-affirming but never saccharine." KIRKUS (starred review)

"Comic, tender, smart ... the perfect vacation read." CHICAGO TRIBUNE

"High entertainment ... atop a bedrock of hard reality … a complex, delectable story." Margaret Gunning, EDMONTON JOURNAL

"Perfectly executed ... Walter tells his story elegantly (with) precise brushstrokes, echoing the appropriate rhythm of each location ... a spectacular story of love, frustration, selfish intent, and the patience of the human heart." -- Melody Datz, THE STRANGER (Seattle)

"A marvel, an absolute gem ... Surprises abound but Walter keeps his plot tethered to reality, resonating and reverberating and building to a conclusion that is as satisfying as it is gratifying." -- Nina Sankovitch, HUFFINGTON POST

"Magestic ... alternately poignant and laugh-out-loud funny ... a delicious summer read." -- Matt Buckingham, WILLAMETTE WEEK

“Energetic, entrancing … Walter’s turns of phrase are as brilliant as his plot twists, making for a compelling, fun read." PEOPLE

"Gloriously and darkly funny ... coming to understand what's going on in Beautiful Ruins brings the thrill of epiphany. Walter's sardonic wit and mischievous intelligence shine out to the very end." -- Katherine A. Powers (CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR/BN REVIEW)

“so effortlessly engrossing that its considerable technical accomplishments take a backseat to its more conventional charms … a great novel.” – PORTLAND MERCURY

"Hilarious and compelling." -- ESQUIRE

"Irresistable." -- O Magazine

“A beautiful story.” – HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

"... so appealing we’d be idiots not to buy it ... A novel shot in sparkly Technicolor."
BOOKLIST (starred review)

"Walter’s newest book will have readers ... marveling at his imagination and spot-on characters ... Not to be missed." LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

"Well-constructed…quirky and entertaining tale of greed, treachery, and love.” PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Why mince words? Beautiful Ruins is an absolute masterpiece.” RICHARD RUSSO, Empire Falls

“This is a blockbuster, with romance, majesty, comedy, smarts, and a cast of thousands.” DANIEL HANDLER, Why We Broke Up

"... nothing less than brilliant, a tour de force that crosses decades, continents, and genres, to powerful and often hilarious effect." BEN FOUNTAIN, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

"... characters so exhilaratingly human that you want to break out into cheers and sobs ... to be untouched by Beautiful Ruins might well be like having no inner life at all." REBECCA NEWBERGER GOLDSTEIN, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God

The Financial Lives of the Poets (2009)
"Darkly funny, surprisingly tender ... Walter ... has an abiding faith in the ability of human beings to be decent." -- LOS ANGELES TIMES

"Funny ... engaging ... a refreshing reminder that fiction remains a relevant, vital way to understand ourselves." -- (Portland) OREGONIAN

"A writer of uncommon talent ... (Walter) has packed "The Financial Lives of the Poets" with so much life and wry truth, all of it timely and topical." -- BLOOMBERG NEWS

"Wildly funny ... Jess Walter is a brilliant writer, one of the freshest new voices in American literature. His sentences snap with energy." -- DALLAS MORNING NEWS

"A deliciously antic tale of an American dream gone very sour ... sharp, wide-eyed, soulful ... a scathing indictment of our country's character and the 'ruined systems' we labor under." -- WASHINGTON POST

"The hero of Jess Walter's novel is like a stoned Humbert Humbert ... The funniest way-we-live-now book of the year.” -- TIME

"An apt and timely version of the current Great Recession ... dangerously astute." -- NEW YORK TIMES

“Compulsively readable ... and as beautifully written as anything you'll read this year.”--THE STRANGER (Seattle)

"Extremely funny ... very smart ... cleverly designed and immensely entertaining." -- CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

"Compassionate, witty and drawn from today's heartless world, it's a terrific book." -- ARIZONA REPUBLIC

"Very funny ... Matt Prior is a terrific narrator, and Walter gives him nimble prose." -- MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL

"Cynical yet warm ... a delight." -- ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY'S MUST-READ FALL BOOKS

"Gasp out loud funny ... Middle-class mayhem is just the best, at least in Walter's hands." -- NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

"A comic and gut-wrenching fable for these impecunious times" -- KANSAS CITY STAR

"A laugh-out-loud, desperately painful account of an economy and a marriage in meltdown." -- from Nick Hornby's Recommended Reading List in PEOPLE MAGAZINE

"The first great novel of the Great Recession ... a hilarious spiral of self-destruction." -- LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL

"(G)enuinely funny ... it's also a wise novel; a keenly observed dissection of the devolution of the American dream." -- EDMONTON JOURNAL

"Conveys, with perfect pitch, the fear, the insecurity and the economic havoc wrought by the recession on America's middle class." -- THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW

"The novel has warmth, and its protagonist emerges as a bourgeois Everyman of the downturn." -- THE NEW YORKER

"Hilarious and timely ... bitter, funny and accurate ... Jess Walter's buoyant voice is a fresh pleasure." -- NEW WEST

"Hilarious and tragic … Walter is one of the foremost American fiction writers." -- NOVA SCOTIA CHRONICLE HERALD

"When it comes to explaining to me my own too often baffling nation, there's no one writing today whom I trust as completely as Jess Walter. His intelligence and sympathy and great wit inform every page--indeed every sentence--of his terrific new novel, The Financial Lives of the Poets." --Richard Russo, author of 'That Old Cape Magic'

"Jess Walter’s smart and big-hearted take on our bleak national moment is a welcome relief. The Financial Lives of the Poets is a rollicking fiction and an affecting family portrait, as well as a mordantly funny cautionary tale."
--Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land

"Who would think financial disaster could be so funny? But in The Financial Lives of the Poets, Jess Walter makes it so, and in the process shows why he's one of the best American writers working today ... a profound, and profoundly funny, book; this may well be the classic novel of our post-boom era."
--Ben Fountain, author of Brief Encounters of Che Guevara

"The Financial Lives of the Poets gives the perpetrators of our economic crisis (that is to say, us) a thrashing worthy of Trollope or Swift ... a virtuoso account of our new sub-prime America ... a hopped up, raucous, stunner of a novel with a hero who’s funny enough to make you weep for what we’ve lost."
--Whitney Terrell, author of The King of Kings County

"The talented Walter finds within his appealing if hapless narrator a perfect conduit for a timely story of personal and financial ruin ... a surprisingly heartwarming portrait of a good man trying to find his way back home."
--Booklist

"bitterly funny ... could not be more topical in its depiction of a leveraged to-the-hilt culture run amuck."
--Kirkus Reviews

The Zero (2006)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: THIS HAPPENED

'The Zero' could end up as the 'Catch 22' of 9/11 ... (with) its brilliant ironies, its deadpan truths, its insider smarts and its everyguy hero ... (Walter) elevates 'The Zero' above mere satire to Kafkaesque parable." -- The Wall Street Journal

"… a noir page-turner with powerful social commentary ... nails our often surreal post-9/11 world, where exploitation of the tragedy has become commonplace. Walter is an immensely talented writer." -- Washington Post Book World

"This is political satire at its best: scathing, funny, dark. And the actual mystery rivets" -- Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A)

"(A) brilliant tour de force ... the breakout novel of a brave and talented young writer." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Walter establishes himself as the current master of fractured U.S. history with all of the surrealism and black humor necessary for such an undertaking. Kafka would have to laugh." -- Library Journal

"A deliriously mordant political satire ... Walter's Helleresque take on a traumatic time ... carries off his dark and hilarious narrative with a grandly grotesque imagination." -- Publishers Weekly

"... a Kafkaesque splicing of the ordinary and the extraordinary ... The narrative and description throughout have a compelling hypnotic beauty … The Zero, a chronicle of the United States' disintegrating post-9/11 polity, is one of the funniest -- and darkest -- satires I've read in a quite a while." -- Globe and Mail (Toronto)

"Jess Walter's The Zero is a tense and compulsively readable roller-coaster ride fraught with psychological thrills, unanticipated dips and lurches and existential truths. The novel frightened and fascinated me in equal measures. Walter has written a neo-noirish masterpiece." --Wally Lamb

Citizen Vince(2005)
ONE DAY YOU KNOW MORE DEAD PEOPLE THAN LIVE ONES.

"Maybe if Aaron Copland had written the score for a film noir starring the Marx Brothers there would be some prototype for Walter's fusion fiction, but he didn't and there isn't." Maureen Corrigan, WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD.

"Mr. Walter's voice is too entertaining to turn flat. For readers who appreciate wry precision and expert timing, it may be enough to know that "Citizen Vince" arrives with sky-high praise from both Ken Bruen and Richard Russo, with whom Mr. Walters shares these qualities. For others, the book's fusion of humor, crime and politics may be recommendation enough." Janet Maslin, NEW YORK TIMES

"Admirably unpredictable ... engrossing ... Walter's best by far." KIRKUS REVIEWS

"Immensely entertaining ... wry social commentary ..." CHICAGO TRIBUNE

"This tale of unlikely redemption works because of Walter's virtuoso command of character and dialogue." BOOKLIST

"With a multitude of scruffy, likable characters and a hopping plot, the story moves along, at turns gritty, funny, poignant and, despite some bloody crimes, surprisingly charming." THE OREGONIAN

" The magic – and, yes, that’s the correct word – of “Citizen Vince” comes from the character of the protagonist and the setting he finds himself in." Dan Webster, THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW

"It's been a long time since I read a book as eagerly, indeed greedily, as I read Citizen Vince." RICHARD RUSSO, Pulitzer Prize winning author of "Empire Falls" and "Straight Man."

"Citizen Vince is the book of 2005 for me. It's a stunning, moving
piece of work." KEN BRUEN, author of "The Killing of the Tinkers."

Land of the Blind(2003)
THERE AREN'T EVEN NAMES FOR SOME OF THE CRIMES WE COMMIT

Land of the Blind, a March 2003 BookSense pick, is the story of Clark Mason, failed politician, entrepeneur and friend, who one day announces to the police that he wants to confess.

His entire life.

"Part mystery, part thriller and a large part literary novel … brilliantly written." CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER

"Intelligently written, bittersweet and thoroughly absorbing … an affecting meditation on friendship and the price of betrayal. SEATTLE TIMES

"Hypnotically compelling." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"A mystery novel of uncommon depth. A haunting, deeply troubling novel." BOOKLIST (starred review)

Over Tumbled Graves(2001)
CAROLINE MABRY WAS TRANSFIXED BY FALLING WATER

A 2001 New York Times Notable Book, Over Tumbled Graves is the story of Caroline Mabry, a police detective overwhelmed by the weight of her own life and by the evil that has descended upon her city.

“An original page-turner.” PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

“A disquieting first novel … incisive sensitivity.” THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

“Stunning … a splendid thriller.” THE PORTLAND OREGONIAN

“Suspenseful, challenging and intelligently written, Over Tumbled Graves is a first novel of considerable depth and insight.” DALLAS MORNING NEWS

Every Knee Shall Bow (1995re-released in 2002 as Ruby Ridge)
THE TRUE STORY OF THE STANDOFF AT RUBY RIDGE

Finalist for the 1996 PEN Center West Literary Nonfiction Award, Every Knee Shall Bow is the story of the 1992 standoff in North Idaho between federal agents and white separatist Randy Weaver and his family. Made into a 1996 CBS miniseries starring Laura Dern, Randy Quaid and Kirstin Dunst.

"A stunning job of reporting." NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

"The most comprehensive, best-written and even-handed account of Ruby Ridge." WASHINGTON TIMES

"Flowing, gripping, logically organized and rich in detail ... a story so tragid it's redolent of Shakespeare." USA TODAY

Books

Story Collection
"So freakishly, fiendishly good it isn't fair." - Seattle Times
Fiction
"A high-wire feat of bravura storytelling." NYT Book Review
"Brilliant--and brilliantly funny." -- Esquire
"A brilliant tour de force." Kirkus Reviews
"Immensely entertaining." Chicago Tribune
"Funny, philosophical and original." The London Times
"Riveting ... outstanding ... tremendous emotional impact." Washington Post Book World
Nonfiction
"A stunning job of reporting." -- New York Times Book Review