Award Winners / Artist Profile

About the Artist

Peter Mountford’s first novel A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism won the 2012 Washington State Book Award in Fiction. His second novel The Dismal Science was a New York Times editor’s pick, and a finalist for the 2015 WSBA. Since earning his MFA from the University of Washington in 2006, Peter’s work has appeared in The Atlantic magazine, Southern Review, Granta, Conjunctions, Best New American Voices 2008, the New York Times Magazine, The Sun, Missouri Review, Boston Review, and elsewhere. A fellow of Bread Loaf and Yaddo, he’s currently on faculty at Sierra Nevada College’s MFA program, and is the events curator at Hugo House.

Information included above was provided by artist at the time of application.
From the Artist

In 2006 I earned an MFA from the University of Washington. I exited the program unemployed, unpublished, aged thirty, with an additional $28,000 in student loans. That summer I directed traffic in a parking lot wearing a bright yellow vest. I’d written and thrown away two novels, dozens of stories. I very badly wanted to quit writing and seek a viable path to financial security, but I was incapable of not writing. So I wrote yet another novel.

Most of what I’ve written since then has been published—2 novels, and dozens of stories and essays. The thing is, although I have a very nice resume, and I love what I do, I've never made more than a first year public school teacher.

Writing is hard, and writers need help. I'm still learning. I fail often, but I fail better, as Beckett would say. And if failure is the price for taking risks, I’ll happily fail every day.

I'm immensely grateful to the judges of this award, and especially to the generosity of Gar LaSalle -- this award will make a huge difference in my ability to actually write in the coming year. Also, I'd like to thank the staff at Artist Trust, specifically Brian McGuigan who recently provided me with encouragement and feedback after I was rejected for a different Artist Trust fellowship. Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the generous and supportive literary community in Washington State, a community which makes plying this notoriously lonely work possible.

Peter Mountford