Justin Torres

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Justin Torres
Justin Torres at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2012
Justin Torres at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2012
Born1980 (age 41–42)
New York City
OccupationNovelist, writer
NationalityAmerican, Puerto Rican

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

Early life[edit]

Justin Torres was born to a father of Puerto Rican descent and a mother of Italian and Irish descent.[3] He was raised in Baldwinsville, New York as the youngest of three brothers.[4][5] Although his novel We the Animals is not an autobiography, Torres has said that the "hard facts" in the novel mirror his own life.[5] City of God by Gil Cuadros, published in 1994, reportedly helped him to come out as gay.[6] After leaving his family home, he attended New York University on scholarship but quickly dropped out. After a few years of moving around in the country and taking whatever job came, a friend invited him to sit in a writing course taught at The New School which motivated him to start writing seriously.[4][7]

Awards and honors[edit]

His first novel, We the Animals (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011),[8] 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).[9] Torres further won the 2012 First Novelist Award for We the Animals. Torres was named by Salon.com as one of the sexiest men of 2011.[10] In 2012 the National Book Foundation named him among their 5 under 35 young fiction writers.[11][12]


In 2010, Torres received his master's degree from Iowa Writers' Workshop. He was a 2010-2012 Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.[13] He was a recipient of the Rolón Fellowship in Literature from United States Artists.[5] 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.[14] He was a former dog walker and a former employee of McNally Jackson, a bookstore in Manhattan.[5] Torres is currently an Assistant Professor of English at University of California, Los Angeles.[1]

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.

A movie version of We The Animals, directed by Jeremiah Zagar, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018,[15] where it won the Next Innovator Prize.[2]


  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. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  2. ^ a b "next-innovator-award-we-the-animals". www.sundance.org. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  3. ^ Chai, Barbara (2011-08-30). "Keeping It All in the Family". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  4. ^ a b "Justin Torres, author of 'We the Animals'". SFGate. 2011-09-03. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  5. ^ a b c d "Interview: Justin Torres, author of "We the Animals"". Electric Literature. 2011-08-19. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  6. ^ Waters, Sarah; White, Edmund; Winterson, Jeanette; Kay, Jackie; Callow, Simon; Donoghue, Emma (2017-07-01). "'At last I felt I fitted in': writers on the books that helped them come out". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-10-18.
  7. ^ "Justin Torres' Hard-Knock Debut Novel". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  8. ^ Salvatore, Joseph (2011-09-23). "We the Animals — By Justin Torres — Book Review". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Radcliffe Institute for Advance Study Harvard University Fellows: Justin Torres" Harvard.edu. Retrieved 10-07-13.
  10. ^ "Salon's Sexiest Men of 2011 | Slide Show". Salon.com. 17 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  11. ^ National Book Foundation: Justin Torres interview
  12. ^ The National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” Fiction, 2012
  13. ^ "Stanford Creative Writing Program". Stanford.edu. Archived from the original on November 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  14. ^ American Studies Leipzig (March 7, 2016). "Next Picador Professor Justin Torres". Retrieved 2017-02-12.
  15. ^ Schoenbrun, Dan. "The 50 Most Anticipated American Films of 2017 | Filmmaker Magazine". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved 2018-07-09.

External links[edit]