Justin Torres

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Justin Torres
Torres at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2012
Born1980 (age 43–44)
New York City, U.S.
OccupationNovelist, writer
NationalityAmerican, Puerto Rican
EducationNew York University
The New School
The University of Iowa
Notable worksWe the Animals (2011)
Blackouts (2023)
Notable awardsFirst Novelist Award; National Book Award for Fiction

Justin Torres (born 1980) is an American novelist and an Associate Professor of English at University of California, Los Angeles.[1] He won the First Novelist Award for his semi-autobiographical debut novel We the Animals (2011), which was also a Publishing Triangle Award finalist and a NAACP Image Award nominee. The novel has been adapted into a film of the same title and was awarded the Next Innovator Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.[2] Torres' second novel, Blackouts, won the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction.[3]

Early life[edit]

Justin Torres was born to a father of Puerto Rican descent and a mother of Italian and Irish descent.[4] He was raised in Baldwinsville, New York, as the youngest of three brothers.[5][6] Although his novel We the Animals is not an autobiography, Torres has said that the "hard facts" in the novel mirror his own life.[6] City of God by Gil Cuadros, published in 1994, reportedly helped him to come out as gay.[7] After leaving his family home, Torres attended SUNY Purchase on scholarship but quickly dropped out.[8] He spent a few years of moving around in the country and taking whatever job came, until a friend invited him to sit in a writing course taught at The New School, which motivated him to start writing seriously.[5][9]


In 2010, Torres received his master's degree from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He was a 2010–2012 Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.[10] He was a recipient of the Rolón Fellowship in Literature from United States Artists.[6] In the summer of 2016, Torres was the Picador Guest Professor for Literature at the University of Leipzig's Institute for American Studies in Leipzig, Germany.[11] He was a former dog walker and a former employee of McNally Jackson, a bookstore in Manhattan.[6] Torres is currently an Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles.[1][12]

He has published short fiction for The New Yorker, Granta, Harper's, Tin House, Glimmer Train, The Washington Post, and other publications, as well as non-fiction for The Advocate and The Guardian.[13]

A film adaptation of We The Animals, directed by Jeremiah Zagar, premiered in 2018 at the Sundance Film Festival,[14] where it won the Next Innovator Prize.[2]

Awards and honors[edit]

Torres' first novel, We the Animals (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011),[15] won an Indies Choice Book Awards (Adult Debut Honor Award) and was also a Publishing Triangle Award finalist and a NAACP Image Award nominee (Outstanding Literary Work, Debut Author).[16] The novel also won the 2012 First Novelist Award.

Torres was named by Salon.com as one of the sexiest men of 2011.[17] In 2012, the National Book Foundation named him among their 5 under 35 young fiction writers.[18][19]

His 2023 novel Blackouts, a historical fiction, dealing with queer identity and historical suppression of LGBT culture, won the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction[20] and was shortlisted for the 2024 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction.[21] Torres received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2024.[22]



  • We the Animals. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2011.
  • Blackouts. Macmillan. 2023.

Short stories[edit]

  • "Lessons". Granta. 104. November 20, 2008.
  • "Reverting to a Wild State". The New Yorker. August 1, 2011.
  • "Starve a Rat". Harper's Magazine. October 2011.
  • "Fiction Issue: 'In the reign of King Moonracer' by Justin Torres". The Washington Post. November 15, 2013.
  • "Dark Mother", in Dismantle: an anthology of writing from the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop(with contributors including Junot Díaz, Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela, Andrea Walls, Adriana Castro Ramírez, Camille Acker, Marco Fernando Navarro). Philadelphia, PA. ISBN 0-9897474-1-7, May 1, 2014.
  • "Where's My Wild Horse, Come to Rescue Me?". Flaunt. 125..


  • "Breaking the Ice: What Russia's queer past has to tell us about the future". Out. September 3, 2013.
  • "The James Baldwin Message for Trans People". The Advocate. November 7, 2013.
  • "Derek Jarman's Alternative to The New Gay Credo". The Advocate. March 13, 2014.
  • "In praise of Latin Night at the Queer Club". The Washington Post. June 13, 2016.
  • "Dog-walking for a wealthy narcissist". The New Yorker. Vol. 92, no. 32. October 10, 2016. p. 60.
  • "The Rust Belt whips and snaps after eight years of Obama". The Washington Post. January 13, 2017.
  • "Supportive Acts by Justin Torres". Bomb Magazine. September 7, 2017.


  1. ^ a b "'The Way You Tell the Story': Justin Torres on Writing (Interview Series, The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress)". www.loc.gov. November 10, 2020. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  2. ^ a b "next-innovator-award-we-the-animals". www.sundance.org. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  3. ^ Harris, Elizabeth A.; Alter, Alexandra (November 15, 2023). "Justin Torres, Author of 'Blackouts,' Wins National Book Award for Fiction". The New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2023.
  4. ^ Chai, Barbara (August 30, 2011). "Keeping It All in the Family". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Justin Torres, author of 'We the Animals'". SFGate. September 3, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d "Interview: Justin Torres, author of 'We the Animals'". Electric Literature. August 19, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  7. ^ Waters, Sarah; White, Edmund; Winterson, Jeanette; Kay, Jackie; Callow, Simon; Donoghue, Emma (July 1, 2017). "'At last I felt I fitted in': writers on the books that helped them come out". the Guardian. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  8. ^ Waldman, Katy (December 31, 2023). "Justin Torres's Art of Exposure and Concealment". The New Yorker.
  9. ^ McDonnell, Tim. "Justin Torres' Hard-Knock Debut Novel". Mother Jones. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  10. ^ "Stanford Creative Writing Program". Stanford.edu. Archived from the original on November 13, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  11. ^ American Studies Leipzig (March 7, 2016). "Next Picador Professor Justin Torres". Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  12. ^ "Torres, Justin". UCLA.edu. Retrieved April 7, 2024.
  13. ^ "National Book Foundation Author Bio". National Book Foundation. Retrieved November 18, 2023.
  14. ^ Schoenbrun, Dan. "The 50 Most Anticipated American Films of 2017 | Filmmaker Magazine". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  15. ^ Salvatore, Joseph (September 23, 2011). "We the Animals — By Justin Torres — Book Review". The New York Times.
  16. ^ "Radcliffe Institute for Advance Study Harvard University Fellows: Justin Torres" Harvard.edu. Retrieved 10-07-13.
  17. ^ "Salon's Sexiest Men of 2011 | Slide Show". Salon.com. November 17, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  18. ^ Justin Torres at National Book Foundation.
  19. ^ The National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" Fiction, 2012
  20. ^ "National Book Awards 2023". National Book Foundation.
  21. ^ "Announcing the Finalists for the 36th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". them. March 27, 2024. Retrieved April 5, 2024.
  22. ^ "Announcements – John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation…". May 15, 2024. Archived from the original on May 15, 2024.

External links[edit]