HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Jess Walter

National Book Award Finalist and Best-Selling Author of Beautiful Ruins


  • Fiction & Writing
  • Comedy & Humor Writing
  • American Culture



Hailed as "a genius of the modern American moment" (Philadelphia Inquirer) and "one of the freshest new voices in American literature" (Dallas Morning News), best-selling author Jess Walter has captivated readers with his humorous stories of contemporary life. He is the author of eight books, including the national best-seller The Financial Lives of Poets (HarperCollins), and the 2006 National Book Award finalist The Zero (HarperCollins). Walter's book Citizen Vince (HarperCollins) was the winner of the 2005 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel and he has been a finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the PEN USA Literary Prize in both fiction and nonfiction. His latest book, Beautiful Ruins (HarperCollins), is a hilarious yet bittersweet tale set in Hollywood's Golden Age and follows a cast of characters, from a roguish Richard Burton, to a young, mysterious starlet, and a suave, fast-talking publicist, as they roam between the Hollywood hills and a flailing hotel in a picturesque Italian fishing village. As the story unfolds, Walter shows us a Hollywood that is about to tumble off a cliff, offering a historic perspective on the celebrity-crazed culture that dominates today. An in-demand speaker, Walter is a perfect for library conferences, universities, book festivals, and community reading programs.

In addition to his novels, Walter also regularly writes essays, short fiction, criticism, and journalism, and his works have appeared in Harper's, Esquire, McSweeney's, Byliner, Playboy, ESPN the Magazine, Details, Best American Short Stories, Best American Non-required Reading, and many others. As a reporter, Walter's story covering the 1992 Ruby Ridge incident for the Spokesman-Review was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His book, Every Knee Shall Bow (HarperCollins), is an in-depth look at this intriguing case. His books have been New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR best books of the year and have been translated into 20 languages. He lives in Spokane, Washington with his wife, Anne, and their children, Brooklyn, Ava, and Alec.

Praise for Jess Walter:

"[Walter is a] deft humorist and catastrophist ... dangerously astute."
-- Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Jess Walter is a brilliant writer, one of the freshest new voices in American literature."
-- Dallas Morning News

Praise for Beautiful Ruins:

"[A] high-wire feat of bravura storytelling ... the surprising and witty novel of social criticism that flows from its lush, romantic opening offers so much more than just entertainment ... Walter's] mixture of pathos and comedy stirs the heart and amuses as it also rescues us from the all too human pain that is the motor of this complex and ever-evolving novel."
-- New York Times Book Review

"A literary miracle."
-- Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

"Why mince words? Beautiful Ruins is an absolute masterpiece."
-- Richard Russo, author of That Old Cape Magic and Empire Falls

"This is a blockbuster, with romance, majesty, comedy, smarts, and a cast of thousands. There's lights, there's camera, there's action. If you want anything more from a novel than Jess Walter gives you in Beautiful Ruins, you're getting thrown out of the theater."
-- Daniel Handler, author of Why We Broke Up and creator of Lemony Snicket

"Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins is nothing less than brilliant, a tour de force that crosses decades, continents, and genres, to powerful and often hilarious effect. Has the movie industry ever been skewered so cleanly? Has Italy ever seemed so seductive, so heartbreakingly lush? A masterful novel of love, loss, and hard-won hope that satisfies on every level."
-- Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

"Within a page-turner of a plot, these triumphantly vulnerable characters leap off the page to take up permanent residence in your inner life. The effect is so powerful that to be untouched by Beautiful Ruins might well be like having no inner life at all."
-- Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction

"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 Reviews (starred review)

Praise for The Financial Lives of the Poets:

"[A] superb farce."
-- Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

"The funniest way-we-live-now book of the year."
-- Time

"The novel has warmth, and its protagonist emerges as a bourgeois Everyman of the downturn." -- The New Yorker

"A deliciously antic tale of an American dream gone very sour ... part noir gumshoe, part average Joe, [Matt Prior] is a sharp, wide-eyed, soulful observer, with a keen eye for the layers of bureaucracy and doublespeak."
-- Washington Post

"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 ... Jess Walter has written a profound, and profoundly funny, book; this may well be the classic novel of our post-boom era."
-- Ben Fountain, author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara

"Walter is one of my favorite young American writers ... [Financial Lives] made me laugh more than any other book published this year."
-- Nick Hornby, Parade

Praise for The Zero:

"Entertaining ... refreshing ... (with) wry precision and expert timing"
-- Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Moving and inspirational ... excruciatingly breathless ... utterly inventive. You just have to read it. 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 ... F. Scott Fitzgerald constructed a pretty good fictional situation in Gatsby upon which to hang that final verdict about American social mobility, but Walter arguably concocts an even better one ... an affecting testament to American faith in the common man."
-- Maureen Corrigan, Washington Post Book World

Praise for Citizen Vince:

"Wonderfully written ... compelling ... Vince Camden is hard to forget. ... Citizen Vince will leave many readers wanting Walter to hurry and deliver another installment."
-- Scott Morris, Los Angeles Times

"It's been a long time since I've read a book as compulsively, indeed greedily, as I read Citizen Vince."
-- Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls

"Jess Walter [is] a wonderful writer. ...Citizen Vince is fast, tough, thougthful and funny. I loved this novel."
-- Nick Hornby, author of High Fidelity and A Long Way Down