Peter Behrens (writer)

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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.

Behrens was born and raised in Montreal, where he studied at Concordia University and McGill University. He was a Fellow of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown 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. The NYT called the book "Absorbing, unsparing and beautifully written...a masterly novel." The NYT called his second novel, The O'Briens, published in 2012 "a major accomplishment". "The O'Briens" was published in French by Editions Philippe Rey (Paris) in 2014. Behrens' third novel Carry Me,[1] an unusual love story set in Berlin, Frankfurt, and West Texas in the 1920s and 1930s, was be published February 2016 by Pantheon in the US and House of Anansi in Canada. Megan O'Grady writing in Vogue said that "This ambitious novel provides a panoramic view of a continent and a microscopic view of two individuals hovering precariously between the two world wars . . . . Vividly imagined . . . . Moving seamlessly back and forth between times and countries, Behrens paints a stunningly intimate portrait in wide, universal strokes." NPR's Jason Sheehan called Behrens "a beautiful, lyric writer. His understanding of the age and command of it, moment to moment, is impressive" While researching "Carry Me" Behrens held a 2012-13 Fellowship at NIAS, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study.

As a screenwriter, Behrens is a member of the Writers Guild of America (West) and the Writers Guild of Canada. He is one of the writers on "The Council", a CBC/NBC-Universal crime series scheduled to debut in Fall 2017. He has guest-lectured at UCLA School of Theater, Film & Digital Media and taught at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver), the University of Southern Maine, Colorado College, and Wichita State University. Behrens was a 2015-16 Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. He currently lives in Cambridge, Mass., Maine and West Texas with his family. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall street Journal, The Globe & Mail, The Walrus, and The Atlantic.

Prizes and awards[edit]

2015-16 Fellowship, The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University 2011-12 Fellowship, NIAS/The Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study 2008 Lannan Foundation Writer Fellowship

2000 Artist Residency, Ucross 1996,1997, 1999 Artist Residencies at Macdowell Colony 1997, 1998, 2001 Artist Residencies at Yaddo 1985-86 Wallace Stegner Fellowship, Stanford University 1984-85 Writing Fellowship, The Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown 1979-1980 McConnell Graduate Fellowship, McGill University Included in Best Canadian Stories Anthology 1978 Included in Best Canadian Stories Anthology 1977



  • "Carry Me" (2016, February) Pantheon Books (US); House of Anansi (Canada); Editions Philppe-Rey (France); Éditions XYZ (Québec)
  • The O'Briens (2011) House of Anansi (Canadad) Pantheon Books (US) Editions Philippe-Rey (France)
  • Law of Dreams (2006) House of Anansi Press Steerforth Press & Random House (paperback) in US

Short stories[edit]

Travelling Light (2013) House of Anansi


External links[edit]