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“Saknussemm is a rare visionary of American culture, a fearless artist with his very own skew on the western world.”
– Jonathan Evison, New York Times best-selling author of West of Here

“Possibly the strangest artist working in virtually every medium.”
-Detroit Free Press

“One is hard pressed, while reading him, to recall the existence of any other reality.”
-The Boston Review

“Kris Saknussemm is red-hot and smoking.”
–Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander (Oprah Book Club Pick)

“The edge of the Edge.”

“Kris Saknussemm is a brilliant writer.”
-Michael Moorcock

“Kris Saknussemm has a voice like no one else’s.  The writing is bracing, original, beautiful, and exciting.”
-Joan Wickersham, National Book Award Finalist

“Outrageous satire tempered by a deeply sympathetic strain of humanism.  Saknussemm continues to surprise, confound and delight.”
-Locus Magazine

-Seattle Times

In My Own Weirds

“Some might say I’ve lived a strange life.  My father was a World War II hero and eccentric minister from a family of artists and preachers.  My great grandfather on that side was one of the most celebrated evangelists of his day and had his own Baptist Society train carriage (one of the famous Chapel Cars).  My father later became quite an eccentric psychologist.  My mother was a very gifted young musician, who worked as the choir director in my father’s church, before becoming a dedicated high school music, drama and English teacher. 

A good part (and bad parts too) of my upbringing I’m writing and publishing about, but this is my real CV as I see it.

I’ve survived a childhood rape and murder attempt, some pretty intense drug and alcohol problems (including a flatline OD in Bellevue), two total fireballs of car wrecks, interrogation by the FBI (regarding the criminality of my stepbrother and friends), a serious beating by the Oakland police, a six-inch knife wound in a drug deal gone wrong, a shoot out in Compton, a very peculiar trip to Enseńada with a pair of female twins who turned out to be very likely coldblooded killers, the special difficulties of pimping a female amputee in Pasadena, an especially brief stint working at Disneyland, a severe case of pneumonia in Venice, official detention and another beating in what was then Yugoslavia, an unfortunate incident in North Africa, some awkwardness with one of the last true traveling family circuses in Kentucky, a doomed love affair with a blonde dwarf in New England, a small plane crash on the island of Ambrym in Vanuatu, Dengue fever in the Solomon Islands, a bizarre experience of enforced raw cannibalism at gun point on the border of Papua New Guinea and what’s now West Papua, sailing through a hurricane in the Coral Sea, getting stranded in the Australian desert, a fall from a tall scaffold, another car crash involving a very large male kangaroo, a serious cancer scare, and a messy divorce—which made all of the above seem easy.

Throw in the usual series of ordinary romantic disasters, a couple of major failed love affairs, and a lot of awful jobs, from my first, cleaning toilets and vacuuming a dry cleaners at age nine, to working in the lettuce fields of Salinas, to being a hospital orderly and then psych ward orderly, and you have some idea of who I think I really am.

I’m decidedly American, but I’ve lived half my life abroad, in Australia and the Pacific Islands of Oceania. I consider myself principally a writer, but I work in all media that I can and deeply enjoy collaborating with other artists.

My greatest regrets are not testifying against the guy who raped me as a child (I was too afraid—a very hard lesson I’ve never forgotten), allowing myself to be forced away from some important people in the islands…keeping so much of life away from family and friends, and not getting a Ph.D. in either the History and Philosophy of Science or Anthropology, which remain my core areas of interest. 

The greatest highlights of my life have been seeing the Northern Lights for the first time in the Yukon, hunting for giant aquatic salamanders in the rivers of northern China, jumping out of a plane at 18,000 feet, and helping a young African-American girl from bad circumstances in North Las Vegas to get a major college scholarship.

The remarkable thing is out of all of this calamity, I’ve cobbled together a fairly professional resume by world standards. Felony convictions quashed, a three-gram a day cocaine habit turned into being a senior creative for one of the world’s largest advertising agencies.

We are all many people. ‘Man bilong meny sados,’ as they told me in the jungle.  The trick of life, the real magic, is trying to unite those shadows into something resembling a whole. Out of all my mistakes, one thing I’ve learned is that people who have genuine stories to tell are the ones mostly likely to listen attentively to yours.”


was born in Berkeley, California.  He graduated with honors from Dartmouth College and holds an MA from the University of Washington.  He has won First Prize in the Boston Review and River Styx Short Fiction Contests, and received the Fiction Collective 2 Award for Innovative Writing, in addition to publishing in a wide range of journals such as Opium Magazine, Hotel Amerika, The New England Review, The Hudson Review, Gargoyle, The Santa Monica Review, The Antioch Review, Nimrod, The Dirty Goat, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, The Hawaii Review, The Southwest Review, South Carolina Review and ZYZZYVA, amongst 300 others internationally.

His nonfiction has appeared in Playboy,, The Writer, The Rumpus, and every significant newspaper in Australia.  A major essay is featured in an anthology from the University of Texas Press entitled WEST OF 98 – LIVING AND WRITING THE NEW AMERICAN WEST.

The recording of his work Memory Wound was awarded First Prize in the Missouri Review’s Audio Competition in the 10 Minute Play category.

His first collection of poems IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER was published by The False Frontier Press in Melbourne and London in 1988 and won the Mary Gilmore Award from ASAL (the Association for the Study of Australian Literature).

ZANESVILLE, his first novel was published to critical acclaim by the Villard Books imprint of Random House in 2005, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award and released in hardcover in Russia.  A surreal thriller in the noir tradition called PRIVATE MIDNIGHT was published by the Overlook Press in 2009 and has become a bestseller in France and Italy.  His other published books include ENIGMATIC PILOT from Ballantine-Del Rey, SINISTER MINIATURES, a collection of short stories from Lazy Fascist Press, a portfolio book of art THE COLORS OF COMPULSION from Les Editions du Zaporogue...REVEREND AMERICA (Dark Coast Press), EAT JELLIED EELS AND THINK DISTANT THOUGHTS (PS Publishing) and SEA MONKEYS, A Memory Book (Soft Skull Press).

Forthcoming work includes a play, THE HUMBLE ASSESSMENT, from Lazy Fascist Press, another portfolio book of visual art from Les Editions du Zaporogue called POSSIBLE LANGUAGES, a collaboration of text and image with the French photographer Esther Voisin entitled INTIME, and several new works of both fiction and nonfiction.

He has been a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony, a featured guest at the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival in Bali and the Gallagher Fellow at the Black Mountain Institute of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.