Keynote Speaker

2020 Prize Keynote Speaker


Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan is the author of the acclaimed short story collection The Dream life of Astronauts, named one of the Best Books of the Year by the St. Louis Times-Dispatch, LitHub, Refinery 29, and Electric Literature, and Send Me, a finalist for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. He is also the author of three novels for young adults.

His fiction has appeared in many literary journals and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories. His nonfiction has been published in Tales of Two Cities, Granta, and other anthologies. A recipient of fellowships from MacDowell and the National Endowment for the Arts, Ryan is the former associate editor of Granta, and the current editor-in-chief of One Story.

The Dream Life of Astronauts

For readers of Tom Perotta and Lorrie Moore, these nine unforgettable stories, all set in and around Cape Canaveral, showcase Patrick Ryan’s masterly understanding of regret and hope, relationships and family, and the universal longing for love.

The Dream Life of Astronauts balances heartbreak with wry humor as its characters try to make sense of the paths they find themselves on. A would-be Miss America auditions for a shady local talent scout over vodka and Sunny D; a NASA engineer begins to wonder if the woman he’s having an affair with is slowly poisoning her husband; a Boy Scout troop leader, recovering from a stroke, tries to protect one of his scouts from being bullied by his own sons; an ex-mobster living in witness protection feuds with the busybody head of his condo board; a grandmother, sentenced to driver’s ed after a traffic accident, surprises herself by falling for her instructor.

Set against landmark moments―the first moon launch, Watergate, the Challenger explosion―the private dramas in The Dream Life of Astronauts unfurl in startling ways. (Publisher: Penguin Random House; August 2017)