Background and education
Kunkel grew up in Eagle, Colorado, and was educated at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire; Kunkel studied at Deep Springs College in California, graduated with a BA from Harvard University, and received his MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University. Kunkel is of the Jewish faith.
In addition to regularly writing for The New York Times, Kunkel has written for the magazines Dissent, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books, The Believer, and The New Yorker.
Indecision, published by Random House, garnered a fair amount of attention. On the cover of the New York Times Book Review (unusual for a first novel), Jay McInerney dubbed it "the funniest and smartest coming-of-age novel in years," but only after Michiko Kakutani's odd, ambiguous review written completely in the voice of Holden Caulfield. Publishers Weekly, in contrast, described the novel as "annoying but accomplished."
In an interview on NPR, Kunkel was asked if he was articulating a generational problem with the novel. He responded
Well, it's obviously not an affliction for everybody in the world, it's only a small segment of the world. But I think for a number of people of my generation, there's been an explosion of freedom without any sort of similar capacity to handle the opportunities that spread themselves before us.
Indecision begins with the acknowledgment, "For n+1." Kunkel has written two short stories and one book review for the print journal he started with friends from college and graduate school. In the Fall 2004 issue, he published the short story "Horse Mountain," about an aging man. In the Spring 2005 issue, he published a review of J.M. Coetzee's works, imitating Coetzee's recent novel Elizabeth Costello. In the Fall 2005 issue, he published a short story "Or Things I Did Not Do or Say," about a man determined to kill another man.
- Kelly, Adam. "From Syndrome to Sincerity: Benjamin Kunkel's Indecision." Diseases and Disorders in Contemporary Fiction: The Syndrome Syndrome. Ed. Timothy Lustig and James Peacock. London: Routledge, 2013. 53-66.
- Sauri, Emilio. "Cognitive Mapping, Then and Now: Postmodernism, Indecision, and American Literary Globalism." Twentieth-Century Literature 57.3 (Fall/Winter 2011): 472-91.
- Jay McInerney in The New York Times Book Review on Indecision
- Metacritic Reviews – A compendium of reviews on Indecision available through the internet on metacritic.com.
- November 2006 NY Magazine article
- n+1 website
Writings and interviews
Archives of his articles for other magazines
- Archive of Kunkel's writings for The Nation (1999–2005).
- Archive of Kunkel's writings for The Believer (2003).
- "The Ideal Husband" – A review of D. H. Lawrence's The Lost Girl. Published in the New York Review of Books (February 24, 2005).
- "The Unreal World" – A review of Don DeLillo's The Body Artist, The Village Voice (February 14–20, 2001).
- "The Sea of Love" – A review of Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson, in The New York Times (May 1, 2005)
Interviews and reading
- "Benjamin Kunkel's Tale of Indecision" – Kunkel reads from his novel on NPR, (September 17, 2005).
- "Welcome to the political world" – Interview with Benjamin Kunkel in The Observer, (November 20, 2005).
- "Attack of the listless lads" – Half-flippant, half-serious conversation with Kunkel about dating, relationships, and more theoretical gender relations in Salon, (September 20, 2005).
Writings featured in n+1