Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Fun facts about award-winning Spokane author Jess Walter

Spokane author Jess Walter fires off a funny quip to Nick Deshais on May 16, 2018, during the Northwest Passages Book Club at the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)

Who says you can’t stay home? It’s a modification of the Bon Jovi hit, but the bottom line is that Jess Walter has enjoyed a great deal of success as a writer without leaving his hometown of Spokane. Here are fun facts about the East Valley High School alumnus:

Walter’s writing career started at The Spokesman-Review.

After graduating from Eastern Washington University, Walter, 55, was a finalist for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize as part of a team covering the shootout and standoff at Ruby Ridge in the vicinity of Naples.

The Ruby Ridge ordeal was the subject of Walter’s first book, the acclaimed and compelling “Every Knee Shall Bow.”

Former President Barack Obama named “We Live in Water: Stories,” a collection of Walter’s short fiction, initially published in 2013, as one of his favorite books in 2019. Walter proceeded to tip his cap to the 44th commander-in-chief by noting that he is a fan of Obama’s accomplishments.

The prolific Walter has penned six novels, one book of short stories and one nonfiction book.

Walter’s mantel features some pretty cool hardware. The gifted wordsmith has twice won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award for “The Zero” and “We Live in Water.” Walter was a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize (“The Zero”) and the PEN/USA Award in both fiction (“The Zero”) and nonfiction (Every Knee Shall Bow.”).

Walter also has a No. 1 New York Times bestseller, “Beautiful Ruins,” which spent more than a year on the bestseller list.

An under-the-radar must-read crafted by Walter is “Bleacher Couch Man,” which appeared nearly a decade ago in ESPN the Magazine. The story is amusing, provocative and surprising. It should be required reading for Spokane residents. The story is perfect for the ADD-addled generation since you’re hooked immediately. “One day, future archaeologists will dig up the bones of these men, in the rubble of what was once Spokane, Wash., and conclude that here fell a fearsome brand of noble warriors. To illustrate his theory, Cole Griffith offers his friends his broken self.” Who can resist reading the rest of the futuristic tale?

The short stories, essays and journalism by Walter also have appeared in publications such as Harper’s Esquire, Playboy, Tin House and Ploughshares, among other magazines.

Walter has branched out into screenwriting. The adaptation of his novel “The Financial Life of Poets” has been written.

Walter is the married father of three children.

Walter’s brother, Ralph Walter, is the assistant managing editor for Sports at The Spokesman-Review.

Walter has been embraced around the world, as his work has been translated into 32 languages.