Katherine Dunn

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Katherine Karen Dunn (born October 24, 1945)[1] is a best-selling novelist, journalist, voice artist, radio personality, book reviewer, and poet from Portland, Oregon. She is best known for the novel Geek Love.

Personal life[edit]

Dunn was born in Garden City, Kansas in 1945.[1] She was the second-youngest of five siblings; her father left before she was two, and her mother, an artist, married a fisherman from the Pacific Northwest.[2] The family moved frequently during her childhood.[2] She went to high school in Tigard, Oregon, and later attended Reed College in Portland, initially majoring in philosophy, then psychology.[2] She began her first novel, Attic, while studying at Reed, and she left without graduating. She traveled to Europe and published her first two novels.[2] She had a child in Ireland, and after seven years living in various places, returned to Portland to stay.[2]

In the 1970s Dunn hosted a radio show on Portland's community radio station KBOO, in which she would read short stories. Her work experience ranges from tending bar, painting houses, and waiting tables, to teaching advanced classes in creative writing at Oregon's Lewis & Clark College and voice-over work. She currently teaches a graduate course in creative writing at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.


Dunn's novel Geek Love was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1989. She also wrote the novels Attic (1970) and Truck (1971). In 1989, Dunn announced that she was working on a fourth novel, entitled The Cut Man.[3] She was reportedly still living in Portland and working on the book in 1999.[4] In 2008, it was reported that publisher Alfred A. Knopf had scheduled The Cut Man for release in September,[5] but the novel was not published at that time. An excerpt appeared in the Summer 2010 issue of The Paris Review[6] under the title Rhonda Discovers Art.[7]

Dunn also wrote the text for Death Scenes: A Homicide Detective's Scrapbook (1995), a book of homicide photography; the humorous The Slice: Information with an Attitude (1989), which contains her collected newspaper columns from Willamette Week, a Portland weekly newspaper; 3 Day Fox: A Tattoo, a poem; and numerous articles for Playboy, Vogue, and the L.A. Times.

Dunn, who has been described as "one of the better boxing writers in the United States"[5] is an editor and contributor for the online boxing magazine cyberboxingzone.com. Dunn wrote a regular column on boxing for PDXS in the 1990s, in which she at one time provided detailed criticism of Evander Holyfield's sportsmanship in his controversial fight with Mike Tyson.[8] She won the Dorothea Lange—Paul Taylor Award in 2004 for her work on School of Hard Knocks: The Struggle for Survival in America’s Toughest Boxing Gyms.[9] Her essays on boxing were collected in the 2009 anthology One Ring Circus: Dispatches from the World of Boxing.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Katherine (Karen) Dunn." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Biography In Context. Web. 5 Oct. 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e Roper, Caitlin (April 2, 2014). "Geek Loved". Willamette Week. 
  3. ^ The Guardian, April 1989
  4. ^ Buckingham, Matt (10 November 1999). "Whatever Happened To...?". Willamette Week. Archived from the original on 23 December 2010. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  5. ^ a b Starr, Karla (February 1, 2006). "But you promised!". Willamette Week. 
  6. ^ Cowles, Gregory (June 11, 2010). "The Return of Katherine Dunn". New York Times Paper Cuts Blog. 
  7. ^ Dunn, Katherine (2010). "Rhonda Discovers Art". The Paris Review. 
  8. ^ Dunn, Katherine., Defending Tyson, PDXS via cyberboxingzone.com, 1997-07-09, Retrieved on 2007-04-18.
  9. ^ Announcement of 2004 prize winners
  10. ^ Schaffner Press Website

External links[edit]