Katherine Center

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Katherine Center
Katherine Sherar Pannill

(1972-03-04) March 4, 1972 (age 51)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
EducationVassar College (BA)
University of Houston (MA)
RelativesLizzie Fletcher (sister)

Katherine Sherar Pannill Center (born March 4, 1972) is an American author of contemporary fiction.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Center was born and raised in Afton Oaks, Houston, Texas.[2] She graduated from St. John's School and from Vassar College.[3] She won the Vassar College Fiction Prize while a student. She received her M.A. in fiction from the University of Houston, where she was the co-editor of the literary fiction magazine, Gulf Coast. Her graduate thesis, Peepshow, a collection of stories, was a finalist for the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction.[4] She has two sisters, one of whom is U.S. Representative Lizzie Fletcher.


Center is the author of several books, which she has called "bittersweet comic novels." Her first novel, The Bright Side of Disaster (2006), was optioned by Varsity Pictures, and her sixth, How to Walk Away (2018),[5] was a New York Times bestseller and Book of the Month Club pick for May 2018 and a Target Book Club pick for July 2019. Center's 2019 novel Things You Save in a Fire was New York Times bestseller, and a Book of the Month Club pick for July 2019. Her 2022 novel, The Bodyguard debuted at #11 on the New York Times bestseller list, #35 on the USA Today bestseller list, and it was a Book of the Month Club pick for July 2022.

Along with Jeffrey Toobin and Douglas Brinkley, Center was one of the speakers at the 2007 Houston Chronicle Book and Author Dinner.

Center has published essays in Real Simple and the anthologies Because I Love Her, CRUSH: 26 Real-Life Tales of First Love, and My Parents Were Awesome.

Center also makes video essays, one of which, a letter to her daughter about motherhood, became the very popular Defining a Movement video for the Mom 2.0 conference. Center spoke at the 2018 TEDx Bend. Her talk was called "We Need to Teach Boys to Read Stories About Girls".


In 2020, a film adaptation of her novel The Lost Husband was released starring Leslie Bibb and Josh Duhamel.[6] It hit number one on Netflix in August of 2020 and wound up in their top 25 movies for the year. In 2021, a film adaptation of her 2015 novel, Happiness For Beginners was filmed for Netflix starring Ellie Kemper and Luke Grimes for release in 2023.[7] It hit Netflix's global Top 10 in 81 different countries around the world.


  • The Bright Side of Disaster (2006)[3]
  • Everyone is Beautiful (2009)
  • Get Lucky (2010)
  • The Lost Husband (2013)
  • Happiness for Beginners (2015)
  • How to Walk Away (2018)[5]
  • Things You Save in a Fire (2019)[8]
  • What You Wish For (2020)[9]
  • The Bodyguard (2022)[10]
  • Hello, Stranger (2023)


  1. ^ "New voices: Katherine Center". USA Today. July 18, 2007. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  2. ^ "Houston author pens bittersweet comedies about women who use humor to cope with struggles". khou.com. 6 February 2019. Retrieved 2020-09-14.
  3. ^ a b Lanham, Franz (July 22, 2007). "Katherine Center's first book delivers". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 3 March 2013. In graduate school at UH, minimalists like Raymond Carver and Amy Hempel were big influences on Center's style. But she gravitated toward David Sedaris-like subject matter — funny, off-the-wall stuff. "I really love writers who can make you laugh," she says. She has a two-book deal from Ballantine and is putting the finishing touches on her second novel, about a woman with three young sons who decides she needs to reconnect with aspects of her pre-mom identity. It's due next summer.
  4. ^ "Katherine Center". Penguin Random House. Retrieved November 20, 2018. Katherine Center graduated from Vassar College, where she won the Vassar College Fiction Prize, and received an MA in fiction from the University of Houston. She served as fiction co-editor for the literary magazine Gulf Coast, and her graduate thesis, Peepshow, a collection of stories, was a finalist for the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction. A former freelancer and teacher, she lives in Houston with her husband and two young children.
  5. ^ a b Bagley, Allison (May 11, 2018). "Houston novelist Katherine Center tackles her toughest subject matter to date". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved November 20, 2018. The theme I seem to come back to is how we pick ourselves back up after life has knocked us down. And it's because I'm not really good at that. It's very easy for me to be like, 'Well, it's hopeless' and throw myself on the floor. So I am fascinated by how other people do it.
  6. ^ The Lost Husband (2020) - IMDb, retrieved 2023-04-15
  7. ^ "Happiness for Beginners". IMDb.
  8. ^ THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE by Katherine Center | Kirkus Reviews.
  9. ^ WHAT YOU WISH FOR by Katherine Center | Kirkus Reviews.
  10. ^ THE BODYGUARD | Kirkus Reviews.

External links[edit]