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Fellowship / Fellows

Peter Behrens

  • 2015–2016
  • Fiction & Poetry
  • Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellow
  • Colorado College, Queens University of Charlotte
Headshot of Peter Behrens
Photo Courtesy of Tony Rinaldo

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.

Peter Behrens, a fiction writer, is writing a sequence of novels about time, memory, and the ways the past shapes the present. All draw on materials from his own family’s history, starting in Ireland before the Great Famine. These books are fiction, definitely not memoir. The third novel in the sequence, Carry Me, will be published by Pantheon in February 2016 and is set in Berlin, Frankfurt, and West Texas during the disastrous epoch 1910–1938.

Behrens is working on the fourth novel of the sequence. With the working title, “Bad Girl,” it tells the story of a young woman struggling with gender identity in Montreal in the 1960s—a time when Quebec society was struggling with identity issues of its own, having to do with religion, language, vestigial colonialism, and ethnic nationalism. It's a transgendered coming-of-age during a period, The Quiet Revolution/La Revolution Tranquille, 1959–1970, when the province of Quebec was struggling to come of age.

Behrens’s first novel, The Law of Dreams (Steerforth Press, 2006), won the Governor General’s Literary Award, Canada’s oldest and most prestigious book prize, and has been published in nine languages. The New York Times has called his second novel, The O’Briens (Pantheon, 2012), “a major achievement.” Behrens has held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, a fiction fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and a writer-in-residence fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Science. 

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