Morgan Talty

Morgan Talty is a citizen of the Penobscot Indian Nation. His debut short story collection, Night of the Living Rez, won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Sue Kaufman Prize, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the New England Book Award, the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Honor, and was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award, and The Story Prize. His writing has appeared in The Georgia ReviewGrantaShenandoahTriQuarterlyNarrative, Lit Hub, and elsewhere. Talty is an assistant professor of English in Creative Writing and Native American and Contemporary Literature at the University of Maine, Orono, and he is on the faculty at the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing as well as the Institute of American Indian Arts. He lives in Levant, Maine.

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  • Spellbinding. . . . a compassionate portrait of a man who is desperate to understand who he is and where he came from.

    —TIME, A Best Book of Summer

  • In this deliberately paced, moody novel, Talty, himself a citizen of the Penobscot Nation, considers questions of identity.”

    —Kirkus Reviews

  • Tender and heartbreaking. . . . sweetened with touches of humor, the novel raises important questions about human connection and belonging.

    —Booklist, Starred Review

  • Absolutely soars. . . . you will come out of this book better than you were going in.

    —Barnes & Noble, A Most Anticipated Debut of 2024

  • Utterly absorbing. . . . compassionately addresses tough choices in matters of family and love.

    —Shelf Awareness

  • Immersive, thought-provoking. . . . Talty doesn’t miss a step in switching from short stories to a novel, and there’s no sophomore slump in this second book; indeed, Fire Exit cements his reputation as one of our best young writers.

    —Portland Press Herald

  • Original. . . . Irresistible. . . . Fire Exit is one of those books that will become more meaningful with the days, weeks, and months after closing the cover.

    —Independent Book Review

  • Thought-provoking. . . . family and identity are so much more than what is in the blood or on a piece of paper.

    —Foreword Reviews

  • Fire Exit, Morgan Talty’s debut novel, is utterly consuming. With this book, Talty more than fulfills the promise of his glorious short story collection, Night of the Living Rez. The storytelling is both spellbinding and quietly devastating. The novel is ultimately about family and belonging, about the stories we need to know even when they threaten to burn our lives down. A father desperately wants to let his daughter know about her body’s secret history, even while his mother forgets her son altogether. This book is filled with humor, and humanity’s strange wonder at its own desperation and depravity, as only Talty can do, with his subtle charm and crystalline prose, his sober reckoning with what love can and cannot do, what healing is and is not possible in our families. The novel absolutely smolders.

    —Tommy Orange

  • Fire Exit is gorgeous. A genuinely original examination of the costs we pay to tell ourselves certain stories about who we are and where we come from. Talty is a revelation on matters of the heart, particularly the tenderness and warfare of contemporary manhood. This is that rare thing: a frankly honest novel about hard things written without a trace of bitterness. I loved it.

    —Brandon Taylor

  • Talty’s writings feels to me like a gift of many lifetimes. Forgiveness, Morgan shows us, is also the work of a lifetime. The people to whom we feel closest can somehow be right beside us in the kitchen and simultaneously on some unreachably distant planet. People rotate away from each other for days or seasons at a time, and it’s miraculous when they return to find each other again, turning towards each other instead of away. It’s a treacherous thing, to love another person in this world that mixes so much beauty with so much sorrow. Thank you for reminding us, Morgan, that it is the necessary thing.

    —Karen Russell

  • Magnificent.

    —Lily King, The New York Times

  • Remarkable. . . . An electric, captivating voice. . . . Talty has assured himself a spot in the canon of great Native American literature.

    —The New York Times

  • Captivating.


  • A perfect mix of funny, sad, timely, and intense, this one has something for everyone.

    —The Boston Globe

  • A blazing new talent.

    —Oprah Daily

  • Memorable.

    —The Wall Street Journal

  • Astounding. . . . Talty is an important new writer to watch.


  • Talty’s book haunted and thrilled me in its raw explorations of inheritance, grief and survival, imbued with humor and warmth.

    —NPR Books

  • Etched with humor, violence, tenderness, and insight, these braided stories burn bright.


  • Unearths grace amid strife. . . . Talty, with his ear for natural, almost musical dialogue, compels you to keep listening.


  • Emotionally pitch-perfect, immersive, and beautifully nuanced, Talty has gifted readers with a stunning debut that shows the interconnectedness of family, community, and ultimately who we are and what we can become. . . . devastating, satisfying, and heart-stopping.


  • Gorgeous.


  • Powerful.


  • Searing, devastating and often darkly funny.

    —Good Housekeeping

  • As tender as anything you’ll read this year.

    —High Country News

  • These stories took me in the same way Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son did when I first read it. The comparison here is meant in every way to praise Talty as a writer, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one who says so, partially because of his emotional precision, his stark, unflinching, droll, intoxicating style, and also because of a certain drug/addiction element at play here. But as I got deeper into the work, into the book, and came to understand these lives and this community, the further away it felt from my initial comparison with Johnson, and the more familiar it felt—our Native communities being bound by countless common threads, strengths and afflictions both—and only then did I understand the distinct brilliance of Talty’s voice as its own, and ours. I knew and felt for these people. Wanted to and knew I couldn’t help them, even as they did me. There is so much brutal, raw, and beautiful power in these stories. I kept wanting to read and know more about these peoples’ lives, how they ended up where they ended up, how they would get out, how they wouldn’t. It is difficult to be so honest, and funny, and sad, at once, in any kind of work. Reading this book, I literally laughed and cried.

    —Tommy Orange, author of There There

  • Morgan Talty’s Night of the Living Rez is a beautifully crafted, raw and intimate book about youth, friendship, and family on the reservation. These stories are profoundly moving and essential, rendered with precision and intimacy. Talty is a powerful new voice in Native American fiction.

    —Brandon Hobson, National Book Award finalist and author of The Removed

  • Flawless. . . . a masterwork by a major talent.

    —The Star Tribune

  • Uses humor and heartache to tell the interconnected stories of a menagerie of Indigenous characters.

    —The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • An inspired debut.

    —Daily Beast

  • A triumph of fiction that values each and every one of its flawed characters deeply and that spins its stories in such a way that invites an immediate reread.

    —The Portland Press Herald

  • Accomplished. . . . It was the only book of 2022 that I read twice.

    —San Diego Union-Tribune

  • Remarkable.

    —Ms. Magazine

  • Woven together with the care and intimacy of a family heirloom.

    —Chicago Reivew of Books

  • Compassionate and insightful.

    —WBUR, NPR Affiliate

  • Incendiary.

    —WBEZ, NPR Affiliate

  • Stunning.


  • Tender, searing insight tempered with humor and compassion. This is a book to sink into.

    —The Rumpus

  • A masterful debut. . . . filled with grit and has heaps of heart to spare.

    —Electric Lit

  • It’s so damn good. After reading the last sentence of the final short story, I just sat there feeling stunned.

    —The Millions

  • Shouldn’t be missed.


  • Unforgettable. . . . manages to assert that hope and forgiveness are possible.


  • Remarkable.

    —Ms. Magazine

  • The best collection I have read all year.


  • Beautiful.

    —Downeast Magazine

  • Exceptional. . . . [Talty] is a tremendously gifted writer, thoughtful and thought-provoking.

    —The Maine Edge

  • Reflects the complexity, irony and humor of what it means to love and be loved, and how love itself is often an imperfect thing, even in its purest forms.


  • Demands to be read, then read again.

    —Fiction Writers Review

  • If you only read one short story collection this year, make it Night of the Living Rez.

    —Book Riot

  • Remarkable. . . . Clear-eyed and compassionate.


  • Unforgettable. . . . rich in both plot and execution, this is a book that reflects how humanity is shaped by both trauma and survival.

    —Tribal College Journal

  • Devastating and witty.

    —The Adroit Journal

  • Talty is sure to delight us with humor and mend our hearts with humanity.


  • Mixes tales of addiction and sadness with joy and humor.

    —Appalachian Mountain Club

  • A memorable portrait of survival, love and perseverance.

    —She Reads

  • Night of the Living Rez is a fiercely intelligent and beautifully written set of stories—a spectacularly visceral and moving account of the experience of a member of the Penobscot Nation in today’s America—as well as a wrenching meditation on family and familial dysfunction. Morgan Talty is a master of the way dependency and pain transition from one body to another; the way both separating and refusing to separate become modes of saving ourselves; and the way, for all of our failures, we never stop doing what we can to provide each other hope.

    —Jim Shepard, author of Phase Six

  • Night of the Living Rez is true storytelling. It’s a book so funny, so real, so spirited and vivid it brought me back to my own rez life and the people who made me.

    —Terese Marie Mailhot, author of Heart Berries

  • While soaked in pain and broken promises, Night of The Living Rez delivers with a grace and dignity on par with the writings of Craig Lesley, Dawn Dumont, James Welch and Joseph Dandurand. Morgan Talty delivers on so many levels and proves that this is why Indigenous Literature continues to be its own unique and sacred blessing. I loved this book. Loved it. And I can’t wait to see what Morgan Talty does next. I am a fan for life. Mahsi cho, Morgan!

    —Richard Van Camp, author of The Lesser Blessed

  • Night of the Living Rez delivers stories that combine the otherworldly with the everyday in ways that startle and sing. Morgan Talty portrays Maine and his Penobscot characters in language and images both beautiful and inventive. With equal parts humor and haunting, this book will linger.

    —Toni Jensen, author of Carry

  • Night of the Living Rez is an indelible portrait of a family in crisis, and an incisive exploration of the myriad ways in which the past persists in haunting the present. I loved these sharply atmospheric, daring, and intensely moving stories, each one dense with peril and tenderness. Morgan Talty is a thrilling new talent.

    —Laura van den Berg, author of I Hold a Wolf by the Ears

  • There is so much beauty in these stories. . . . they build on themselves the way a life builds: messily, unpredictably, with love and heartache and never quite in the way you expect.


  • Joining the ranks of Tommy Orange, Brandon Hobson and Terese Marie Mailhot, Talty’s strikingly successful debut is poised to expand the growing circle of lauded Indigenous writers. Superb.

    —Shelf Awareness

  • Ingenious. . . . Unforgettable.

    —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

  • Talty is adept at unearthing his characters’ emotions. . . . these stories reveal the hardships facing a young Native American in contemporary America.

    —Kirkus, Starred Review

  • Brilliant.

    —Foreword Reviews, Starred Review