David James Duncan

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David James Duncan
Born1952 (age 69–70)
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
OccupationNovelist, essayist
Alma materPortland State University
Notable worksThe River Why (1983)
The Brothers K (1992)

David James Duncan (born 1952)[1] is an American novelist and essayist, best known for his two bestselling novels, The River Why (1983) and The Brothers K (1992). Both novels received the Pacific Northwest Booksellers award; The Brothers K was a New York Times Notable Book in 1992 and won a Best Books Award from the American Library Association.[1]

Film adaptation[edit]

In 2008, The River Why was adapted into a "low-budget film" of the same name[2] starring William Hurt and Amber Heard.[3] On April 30, 2008, the film rights to The River Why became the subject of a lawsuit by Duncan alleging copyright infringement, among other issues.[4][5] The lawsuit has been settled and Duncan has said, "I engaged in a three-year legal battle against the producers of the film over their handling of my film rights. That battle was settled last fall. My name is off the film, Sierra Club’s name is off the film, and the rights have returned to me. I tried to remove my title from their film, too, but the federal magistrate in San Francisco let them keep it".[6]

Other works[edit]

Duncan has written a collection of short stories, River Teeth (1996, ISBN 0-553-37827-9), and a memoir of sorts, My Story As Told By Water (2001, ISBN 1-57805-083-9). His latest work is God Laughs and Plays: Churchless Sermons in Response to the Preachments of the Fundamentalist Right, published in 2006 (ISBN 0977717003).

An essay, "Bird Watching as a Blood Sport", appeared in Harper's Magazine in 1998; Duncan wrote the foreword to Thoreau on Water: Reflecting Heaven (2001, ISBN 0-395-95386-3).

An essay, "A Mickey Mantle koan: The obstinate grip of an autographed baseball" appeared in Harper's Magazine in 1992.

Personal life[edit]

Duncan was born in Portland, Oregon[1] and lives in Lolo[7] in Missoula County, Montana.[5] He has written op-ed pieces in support of preservation of Montana's Blackfoot River.[7]

His papers are held in the Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community, and the Natural World, part of the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University.[8]


  1. ^ a b c David James Duncan: An Inventory of His Papers, (1959-2002) at Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University
  2. ^ The River Why at IMDb
  3. ^ Ambush, Hurt jump into River Why from a July 1, 2008 article from Variety magazine
  4. ^ Hollywood Docket: River Why Author Claims Producers Infringed on Film Rights from "The Hollywood Reporter, Esq." blog
  5. ^ a b Duncan v. Cohen, Case No. 08-CV-2243 (USDC, N. Calif. filed April 30, 2008) from courthousenews.com
  6. ^ Interview: David James Duncan: Author of "The River Why" on water, salmon and the policies that are killing them Archived 2011-07-07 at the Wayback Machine from 1859 Oregon's Magazine
  7. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-12-23. Retrieved 2013-09-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Texas Archival Resources Online". txarchives.org. Retrieved 2021-12-13.

External links[edit]