Ben Fountain

"The smartest thing I’ve done in writing: following my own head and writing what I wanted to write, and nothing but."

Ben Fountain is an attorney turned award-winning essayist and author. His debut novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, has been dubbed the “Catch-22 of the Iraq War.” It won the National Book Critics Circle Award, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and in 2016, Billy Lynn was adapted into a feature film directed by three-time Oscar winner Ang Lee.

In 2016, Ben wrote a series of essays published in The Guardian on the U.S. presidential election that were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary. Later, Ben decided to try to make sense of the political events of 2016 with his book Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution. In this sweeping work of reportage, Ben recounts a surreal year of politics and an exploration of the third American existential crisis (the first two being the Civil War and the Great Depression). Publishers Weekly calls Beautiful Country Burn Again, “Whip-smart and searching in its indictment of cant and falsity, this is perhaps the best portrait yet of an astounding election.”

After leaving law practice behind, Ben realized his intense interest in Haiti, and this led him to visit the country multiple times. From these visits came a short story collection titled Brief Encounters with Che Guevara. Two of the stories won a Pushcart Prize, a third won an O. Henry Prize, and the book itself won a PEN/Hemingway award as well as the Barnes & Noble Discover Award. Ben’s reportage on post-earthquake Haiti was nationally broadcast on the radio show This American Life.

Ben has lived in Dallas for over thirty years. He speaks fluent French and Haitian Creole.

Ben Fountain - How to write about a war you never witnessed


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