Ken Kalfus


Ken Kalfus in October 2013

Ken Kalfus (born April 9, 1954 in New York City) is an American author and journalist. Three of his books have been named New York Times Notable Books of the Year.

Early life and education

He was born in the Bronx, and grew up in Plainview, Long Island.[1]

Kalfus started college at Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, but dropped out after the first year. Kalfus later attended the New School for Social Research in Manhattan and New York University.[2] Kalfus started writing at an early age.


Kalfus and his family have lived in Paris, Dublin, Belgrade, and Moscow. He believes his time in other countries keeps his observations fresh and provides him with valuable insights.[3]

Kalfus began his career by publishing short stories and now writes novels. His most recent novel was Equilateral (2013).[4] His previous novel, A Disorder Peculiar to the Country (2006), was a National Book Award nominee. His first novel was The Commissariat of Enlightenment (2003), preceded by short story collections PU-239 and Other Russian Fantasies (1999) and Thirst (1998). The latter three works were each chosen among The New York Times Notable Books of the Year. He published his first book at the age of 44, and achieved favorable critical response.

His 2015 short story collection "Coup de Foudre' features a novela with the same title, it is a thinly veiled fictionalization of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's alleged 2011 sexual assault on a maid in a midtown New York hotel suite. In an interview in Bookslut, he told the critic Vladislav Davidzon "The news often feeds my imagination, which is why my fiction sometimes plays off topical or historical events...."[5]

The 2007 HBO movie Pu-239 was based on his short story of the same name.[6]

Marriage and family

He is married to Inga Saffron, Pulitzer-winning architecture critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer,[7] with whom he has a daughter, Sky.[8]



  1. ^ Kalfus, Ken. "Ken Kalfus". Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  2. ^ "It Started With a Vision of Tolstoy's Death, Then Segued Into a First Novel". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  3. ^ Dwight Garner, "The Salon Interview: Ken Kalfus", Salon/com, 23 Jul 1998, accessed 25 May 2009
  4. ^ "Equilateral". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Bookslut | An Interview with Ken Kalfus". Retrieved 2015-12-15.
  6. ^ Burns, Scott Z. (2007-11-17), Pu-239, Paddy Considine, Oscar Isaac, Valeriu Pavel Dan, retrieved 2017-11-09
  7. ^ Beans, Bruce E. (April 4, 2000). "Capturing Russia". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  8. ^ Greg Miller (December 11, 1996). "Russia's Undertested Children Face Lead Poisoning Menace". The Moscow Times. Archived from the original on April 19, 2014.

External links

  • Three Stories, Madras Press, 2010
  • Excerpt, Ken Kalfus, "Thirst", Milkweed Editions, 1998
  • "Meet the Writers: Ken Kalfus", Barnes and Noble