Peter Behrens (writer)

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Peter Behrens
Born(1954-10-07)October 7, 1954
Montreal, Quebec
OccupationNovelist, short stories
Notable worksThe Law of Dreams

Peter Behrens (born 1954) is a Canadian-American novelist, screenwriter and short story writer. His debut novel, The Law of Dreams, won the 2006 Governor General's Award for English fiction,[1] and was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the CBA Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year, and the First Novel Award.[1]

Behrens was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, where he studied at Concordia University and McGill University.[1] He was a Fellow of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and held a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. His earliest short fiction can be found in Best Canadian Stories 1978 and Best Canadian Stories 1979, and in his debut short story collection, Night Driving (1987). He subsequently worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter; though he continued to publish short stories and essays in Canadian and American magazines, he did not publish another book until The Law of Dreams, his novel of a young man driven into exile during Ireland's Great Famine.[2] The novel was rejected by 25 publishers in the United States before being accepted by Steerforth Press.[3] It was published by House of Anansi in Canada.

He followed up with the novels The O'Briens (2011)[1] and Carry Me (2016).[4] While researching Carry Me, Behrens held a fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS). Carry Me won the 2017 Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature.

Behrens was a 2015–16 fellow of Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. In fall 2017 he was the Mordecai Richer Writer in Residence at his alma mater, Concordia University. He is an adjunct professor at Colorado College and an advisor and adjunct professor in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Queen's University of Charlotte. He has guest-lectured at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and taught screenwriting at Simon Fraser University

As a screenwriter, Behrens is a member of the Writers Guild of America (West) and the Writers Guild of Canada. He has guest-lectured at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and taught at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver), the University of Southern Maine, Colorado College, and Wichita State University.

His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, and The Atlantic.



  • The Law of Dreams (2006) – House of Anansi Press (Canada); Steerforth Press/Random House (US)
  • The O'Briens (2011) – House of Anansi (Canada); Pantheon Books (US)
  • Carry Me (2016) – House of Anansi (Canada); Pantheon Books (US)

Short stories[edit]

  • Night Driving: Stories (1987) – Macmillan of Canada
  • Travelling Light (2013) – House of Anansi


External links[edit]