Ben Fountain

Internationally-recognized and multi-award winning fiction author Ben Fountain graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before attending Duke University School of Law. He now lives in Dallas, Texas. 

Fountain’s most recent novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, has been published in fourteen languages. It won the 2013 National Book Critics’ Circle Award for fiction, the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN New England-Cerulli Award for Excellence in Sports Fiction, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction, and the Jesse H. Jones Award for Fiction. The novel was also named a “best book of the year” on over twenty lists, including Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly. It was a finalist for the National Book Award. The New York Times bestselling book is being optioned for a feature film by the Ink Factory, Ltd. and is has been made into a feature film with Ang Lee, director of Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, among other films. Cast members include Steve Martin and Joe Alwyn.

Fountain’s 2006 short story collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, was a 2007 winner of the PEN New England-Hemingway Award for Fiction, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award for Fiction, the Whiting Writer’s Award, among other honors. The bestselling collection also garnered widespread praise from a number of reviewers who called it “a masterpiece,” “an impeccable debut collection” and a “tremendous achievement.”

Fountain's fiction has appeared in Harper's magazine, The Paris Review, Zoetrope: All-StoryEsquire, and Stories from the South: The Year's Best, and he has been awarded an O. Henry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, two Texas Institute of Letters Short Story Awards, and many other honors. He is the former fiction editor of Southwest Review. His nonfiction writing has appeared in The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine, among other publications. His reportage on post-earthquake Haiti was nationally broadcast on the radio show This American Life.

Fountain has taught at the University of Texas at Austin, University of Idaho, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He recently joined the Texas State University Department of English as the University Endowed Chair in Creative Writing from 2014-2016. 

His latest book, Beautiful Country Burn Again, is a book of essays on the 2016 US Election, and is published by Ecco.


beautiful country burn again

Ben Fountain and Malcolm Gladwell discussed the book at Books Are Magic—read the transcript here.

Read excerpts in LitHub and The Guardian, and find interviews in Rolling Stone and on KCRW.


"Pithy and profound, Fountain’s political observations fly off the page in a torrent of mantra-worthy quotes, while his historical analyses stun with their depth of research and relevance. Along with Jon Meacham’s The Soul of America (2018), Fountain’s mix of salient lessons from the past and essential guideposts for the future is a must-have addition to the “how did we get here” canon of political scrutiny in and of the age of Trump." —Booklist (starred review)

"[Ben Fountain's] masterful original phrasings make the book worthwhile, urgent, and timely." 

“Forceful… [Fountain] brandishes a full array of literary tools, including song, verse, historical, anecdotes, piles of research and plenty of satisfying takedowns to keep you on his ride…. His brutal observations could easily be the main feature of his work, yet Fountain has more important things to say and more ingenious ways to say them.” The New York Times Book Review

“Hilarious, scathing, brutally fair, and often chilling. Beautifully written joined up thinking.” — Sting

“If you only have time for one political book this season, I have just the one for you: Ben Fountain’s Beautiful Country Burn Again. It’s the boldest, bravest and most bracing book about politics that I have read this year.” Bill Moyers

Beautiful Country Burn Again sits alongside Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 and Joan Didion’s coverage of the 1988 presidential campaign as some of the best political writing of the past 50 years.” Rolling Stone

“In this powerful book, Ben Fountain asserts that the United States has twice before been faced with crises so severe it was forced to reinvent itself (the struggle over slavery, culminating in the Civil War, and the the Great Depression). Now, he argues, the country is in its third existential crisis.” Bustle

“Brilliant reporting” — Adam Hochschild, New York Review of Books

“With clarity of mind and the most observant of eyes, Fountain gives us a memorable and unique portrait of… an American moment which is likely to shape us for far longer than any of us would like to contemplate.” — Jon Meacham

"The force and beauty of Fountain's writing, his clear-eyed fury, his commitment to what is great about the American idea, make for exhilarating reading. A book for right now, and for all the fires next time." — Alma Guillermoprieto, author of Dancing with Cuba: A Memoir of the Revolution

“Thank God for Ben Fountain.  He reminds us of another American Ben F...Franklin.  Here is a quirky truth teller, a creative, who is attempting to steer America on a path that will bring some goodness to the most of us.”  — Tiphanie Yanique, author of The Land of Love and Drowning

"His words are emotional and powerful.  Beautiful Country Burn Again has the potential to arm the body politic with their greatest weapon--knowledge." Shelf Awareness

“Might leave singe marks on your fingers.”  Dallas News

“Where the book shines is in Fountain’s evocative prose and commentary; he is not only a sharp writer but an astute observer of the human condition.” Texas Observer

“…an openhearted patriotic spirit of fellowship with his countrymen and a mounting sense of distress that Americans have always been but are now especially vulnerable to fraudulent appeals to their ugliest instincts. Most of his excursions on the road and through the past yield a tableau mixing the venal and the humane.” Bookforum

“With Fountain as our Virgil, our tour guide to hell, we not only have a great time but come out feeling energized rather than defeated.” LA Review of Books

“Breathtaking” Austin Chronicle

“Ben Fountain has cast his unconventional book on the 2016 election as an engaging meditation on two large questions that surely preoccupy many book-reading Americans these days: What on earth happened in and to the United States in 2016? And why did it happen? In “Beautiful Country Burn Again,” Fountain confronts both these riddles in creative and provocative ways that force a reader to think hard about the sudden disappearance of familiar patterns of politics and government that, until they blew up, seemed to be persistent, if not permanent.” Washington Post

“Fountain’s voice—enraged, unsparing, unrelenting, acutely attuned to hypocrisy, and suffused with wit—invests his testimony with an authority that commands respect.” Andrew Bacevich



Named one of the 9 best war novels ever written, by We Are The Mighty in March, 2015.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk named one of the 21st century's 12 greatest novels, according to a BBC poll of book critics in January, 2015.

“Grand, intimate and joyous.” – Geoff Dyer, The New York Times

Billy Lynn is an exhilarating read, and convincingly – if belatedly – damning of Bush’s America.” – Theo Tait, The Guardian

"A masterful gut-punch of a debut novel." – Jeff Turrentine, 

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk to be made into a movie directed by Ang Lee

Named on Michiko Kakutani's Reading List of Modern War Stories, The New York Times, December 25, 2014












“Each of these eight stories is as rich as a novel – high praise when you consider how many of today’s novels could be distilled into a short story. Throughout his book, Fountain makes the strange familiar and the familiar strange, showing the human factor that links seemingly diverse nations. Heartbreaking, absurd, deftly drawn.” – Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times

“A superb debut story collection travels to Colombia, Sierra Leone and the U.S., examining the damage capitalism has wreaked on the world… The writing is literary and earnest, full of foreign languages and settings, and unusual and lovely words… his prose is baroque, patient, precise and wry. It’s also often very funny.” – Tony D’Souza, Salon

Brief Encounters with Che Guevara is nothing short of a masterpiece.” – Stephen Elliott, The Rumpus

“Beyond the pleasures of Fountain's vivid image-making and fluent storytelling, his collection's great accomplishment is the depth of reality it gives the foreign settings.” – Chris Power, The Guardian