Ben Fountain

Award-winning and bestselling author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Ben Fountain as a child
Portrait of the artist as a young cinder block

Ben Fountain

Ben Fountain was born in Chapel Hill, N.C., and grew up in the tobacco country of eastern North Carolina.  He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University School of Law.  While at Duke, his article for the Duke Law Journal, “Developments in the Law: Judicial Review of Agency Rulemaking and Adjudication,” was generally considered by his fellow students to be the most boring article to appear in the Journal that year.  After graduating from Duke, he practiced law in the areas of real estate finance and banking for five years in Dallas, Texas. 

Fountain’s New York Times bestselling novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012), received the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for fiction, the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN New England-Cerulli Award for Excellence in Sports Writing, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction, and the Jesse H. Jones Award for Fiction.  It was a finalist for the National Book Award in both the U.S. and the U.K. (International Author Category), and was runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.  Billy Lynn was named a “best book of the year” on over twenty lists, including Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon. 

In 2016, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk was adapted into a feature film directed by three-time Oscar winner Ang Lee, starring Steve Martin, Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Garrett Hedlund, Chris Tucker, and Joe Alwyn.

Fountain’s 2006 short story collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, received the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award for Fiction, and a Whiting Writers Award, among other honors. The bestselling collection garnered widespread praise and was included on multiple “best books of the year” lists, including those compiled by San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, and Kirkus Reviews.

His 2018 nonfiction book, Beautiful Country Burn Again, is a narrative, with history, of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  Beautiful Country is based on a series of pieces—hybrid concoctions of essay and reportage—published by The Guardian during 2016, which were subsequently nominated by The Guardian’s editors for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary.  The book was widely praised, with Rolling Stone commenting, “there may be no writer alive today who better captures the manic, fevered, paranoid style in 21st-century America than Ben Fountain,” while the reviewer for The New York Times Book Review, a former aide to Senator Ted Cruz, wrote, “At times I wished Fountain would dumb it down a bit.”  Beautiful Country received the Carr P. Collins Award for best nonfiction book of the year from the Texas Institute of Letters.

Fountain’s most recent book, a novel, Devil Makes Three, was published by Flatiron Books in September, 2023.      

Fountain’s short fiction has appeared in Harper’sParis Review, Sewanee Review, Zoetrope: All-StoryEsquire, The Threepenny Review, and elsewhere, as well as in the collections Dallas Noir and Haiti Noir II.  His stories have been awarded an O. Henry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, and two Texas Institute of Letters Short Story Awards, among other honors.

His nonfiction has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Daily Beast, Texas Monthly, The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, Shortlist Magazine (U.K.), The Guardian (U.K.), Le Monde (France), Intranqu’îllités (Haiti), and Reporto Sexto Piso (Mexico City), among other publications. In 2010, his reportage on post-earthquake Haiti was nationally broadcast on the radio show This American Life.

From 2004 to 2006 Fountain served as fiction editor for The Southwest Review.  He has taught at the University of Texas, both in the English Department and at the Michener Center for Writers, and served a two-year appointment as University Chair in Creative Writing at Texas State University.

Fountain has lived in Dallas since 1983.

Copyright © 2024 Ben Fountain. All rights reserved.
Author photo credit: Thorne Anderson

Devil Makes Three by Ben Fountain

Devil Makes Three

by Ben Fountain

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