landing page

"Adrian’s writing remains hypnotic on every subject."
Tin House

Kim Adrian is the author of a memoir and two books of lyric criticism, as well as the editor of an essay anthology praised by The Millions for offering "a sense of hope about literature." Her work has received support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, PEN/New England, the Bread Loaf Writing Seminars, and the Edward Albee Foundation. She has taught creative writing at Brown University and occasionally offers workshops at Grub Street, in downtown Boston.
selected interviews
Publisher's Weekly
interviewed by Emilia Phillips
"Right after I got the contract to write [a book about My Struggle], I was excited to dig in, but I quickly became paralyzed because it’s just such a gigantic novel, and one I admire so much. There was just so much to say—how could I even begin? I was paralyzed for about nine months. The epistolary form immediately freed me up because it’s so intimate. It let me write more as a reader and less as a formal critic."
Los Angeles Review of Books
interviewed by Sariah Dorbin
"The object of the sock interests me precisely because it’s so ordinary. So ostensibly boring. What’s to say about a sock? (I liked that challenge.) But if you were a Martian, and you knew nothing about human beings, socks would probably be very interesting to you. Hmm. They put these little bags on their feet all the time — I wonder why? I wanted to look at the sock like that. But I knew I’d have to pull my readers on board with me. Like, let’s be Martians together. Basically, I had to create a playful atmosphere."
Washington Independent Review of Books
interviewed by Holly Smith
"The thing I’m always more interested in myself, as a reader, is rarely the takeaway so much as the sense of friendship or understanding you can have with a book you really connect with. When I love a book, it’s because of this feeling. I’ll never know if some readers might experience that with this memoir because reading is such a private activity. But if I could know about it, and it did happen, it would make me happy."
New World Writing
interviewed by Gary Percesepe
(scroll down for interview)
"I think you can cram as much truth into fiction as you can into nonfiction. Don Quixote is as fictional as it gets, but it holds a boatload of truth. Honesty has always been a kind of obsession for me. A compulsion. Fudging things, even if it’s to get to a larger truth, is definitely a complicated process for me. This is why fiction is such a struggle, and nonfiction so comparatively easy."
Tin House
interviewed by Michelle Wildgen
"This may sound funny, but the tone I wound up with reminds me a little of wearing no make-up. When my sentences were, individually, very pretty, when I tried so hard to make each paragraph 'beautiful,' it was as if I’d botoxed my prose. There was no traction. The story simply didn’t advance. It was static. Being willing to work without make-up (so to speak) made an enormous difference. Using a less self-conscious, more unadorned voice was scary, but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate that it was also incredibly liberating."
The Leaving Years Blog
interviewed by Kathryn Kopple
"One of the reasons the essay appeals to me is that it can be both extremely personal—actually intimate—but at the same time almost clinical in its engagement with facts. The personal part of the equation has to do with the writer’s sensibility. The facts are largely what that sensibility engages with. More than any other prose form, the essay uses the author’s sensibility to shape and energize the work. It’s similar to poetry in this sense. A big part of what’s going on with both forms is simply a presentation of the writer’s mind at work."
Barnstorm Literary Journal
interviewed by Wes Hood
"Although I'm happy whenever someone finds something beautiful in my work, I'm not personally interested anymore in writing beautifully. I'm interested in illuminating my subject, whatever that might be. It gives me a lot more energy to work in this way. And it doesn't necessarily preclude beauty. Because if you illuminate your subject well, whatever beauty is there will be revealed as a matter of course."
Essay Daily
interviewed by Ander Monson
"The first story I wrote after this revelation did not go well in workshop. In fact, the teacher said in class that the narrator (clearly a version of myself) needed to be in a psychiatric hospital. Even at the time I remember thinking that comment was over the line. The narrator of that story was merely thoughtful and a little melancholy. That particular teacher had written a well-known book on conventional fiction writing techniques and, looking back on it now, I wonder if he took it personally, somehow, the fact that that story of mine—which was about young love—was as essayistic as it was narrative. Did he resent my coloring outside the lines he’d described so carefully in his craft book? "
upcoming events

September 3, 2020 - 7pm
online launch event for Dear Knausgaard
via Brookline Booksmith, with Alden Jones

Kim's essays and short stories have appeared in Agni, Tin House, the Gettysburg Review, O the Oprah Magazine, and many other places. Four works have been cited in Best American Short StoriesBest American Essays, and the Pushcart Prize anthology; two have been translated into Mandarin for Chinese literary magazines.
selected short works
"My Thoughts on Pâté"

Michigan Quarterly Review | Distinguished Story, Best American Short Stories 2014

"Why Dim Sum Makes Me Feel Tender"
Seneca Review | Chinese translation in 作家 (Writer Magazine)

"Famous Cake"
Post Road

"The Cut"

"'Gooseberries' and Red Currants"
Tin House

"How to Buy Peaches'
Tin House | Notable Essay, Best American Essays 2010

"I Wish I Could Write Like Russell Edson"

"Questionnaire for My Grandfather"
The Gettysburg Review | anthologized in YOU: Essays Devoted to the Second Person | Chinese translation in Yangtze River Series

"Knitting 101"
New World Writing

"The Twenty-Seventh Letter of the Alphabet: Excerpts from a Memoir"

"Last Cookies"
New World Writing

"The Ritual"
O: the Oprah Magazine

The Maine Review

"Five Photographs"
Ninth Letter | Special Mention, Pushcart Prize XXXIV

"Eight Photographs"
New Ohio Review | NOR Editors' Prize in Nonfiction

"Ten Conversations about My Struggle"
Gettysburg Review | excerpted on LitHub

"The Matter of Translation: Wislawa Szymborska's 'Conversation with a Rock'"
Gettysburg Review

"A Pickle of a Novel: Clarice Lispector's The Passion According to G.H."
Tin House

"A Prayer for the Future of Everything: On Oe Kenzaburo"
Raritan Review

"On Valentin Papadin’s Teach Yourself to Be a Madman"
Tin House

"Poe’s Death-Watches and the Architecture of Doubt"
New England Review  | reprinted in Poetry Criticism (v.198)

"Kim Adrian on What Our Nonfiction is Trying to Tell Us"
Literary Hub

"Great Liberations: Writing Beyond the Academy" (with Anna Leahy)
Public Books

Dear Knausgaard
Twenty-five letters addressed to Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard examine the curious operations of intimacy in literature and present a compelling feminist critique of Knausgaard's 6-volume autobiographical novel My Struggle.  » more info
"If you’re seeking a heady, thoughtful response to a heady, thoughtful multi-volume work — well, we have a recommendation for you." —Vol. 1 Brooklyn

The Twenty-Seventh Letter of the Alphabet
An intimate portrait of the chaos and confusion of a mother's mental illness and a deep meditation on storytelling itself. Written in the form of a glossary.  » more info
"Strangely gripping, with a momentum pulling the reader in and through. The result is whimsical, even darkly funny at times, brimming with compassion, terribly sad and deeply loving. Memoir readers should not miss this singular offering." —Shelf Awareness

A close look at the humble sock reveals extraordinary secrets hiding in this most ordinary of objects and reintroduces us to our own bodies—vulnerable, bipedal, and flawed.  » more info
"An utterly engaging investigation—not so much of [the sock], per se, as of human evolution, anatomy, physics, sexuality, fashion, painting, consumerism, manufacturing, and motherhood. . . . illuminating, erudite, deeply intelligent." —Los Angeles Review of Books


The Shell Game: Writers Play with Borrowed Forms
An anthology of innovative essays that borrow their structures from ordinary, everyday forms—such as crossword puzzles, computer scripts, and police reports.  » more info
"This book is the science fiction of creative nonfiction, or better yet, the Ulysses of the modern essay . . . it makes readers feel as if they are learning what an essay is (or could be) all over again." —New Pages

. .