Robert Olen Butler is an American fiction and short story writer. He has published numerous books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (1992). In addition to his writing, Butler is a professor of creative writing at Florida State University, where he has taught since 2000.
Robert Olen Butler was born in Granite City, Illinois. He received his undergraduate degree in 1967 from Northwestern University, where he majored in theater. Then Butler earned MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1974. Butler studied with several well-known writers, including John Cheever and Raymond Carver. This time at Iowa helped him develop his writing style
Butler first gained recognition as a short story writer. His first collection of short stories, From a Terrace in Prague, was published in 1980 and won the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
His debut novel was The Alleys of Eden, published in 1981. The novel tells the story of a young army lieutenant who falls in love with a Vietnamese woman during the Vietnam War.
Since then, Robert Olen Butler has published fifteen more novels Sun Dogs, Countrymen of Bones, On Distant Ground, Wabash, The Deuce, They Whisper, The Deep Green Sea, Mr. Spaceman, Fair Warning, Hell, A Small Hotel, The Hot Country, The Star of Istanbul, The Empire of Night, Perfume Riverand six volumes of short fictionTabloid Dreams, Had a Good Time, Severance, Intercourse, Weegee Stories, and A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, which won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
“I’ll never stop believing it: Robert Olen Butler is the best living American writer, period.” — Jeff Guinn, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Also, Butler has published a volume of his lectures on the creative process, From Where You Dream, edited with an introduction by Janet Burroway.
A recipient of both a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction and a National Endowment for the Arts grant, he also won the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award.
He has twice won a National Magazine Award in Fiction and has received two Pushcart Prizes. His stories have appeared widely in such publications as The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Zoetrope, The Paris Review, The Hudson Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, and The Sewanee Review.
They have also been chosen for inclusion in four annual editions of The Best American Short Stories, eight annual editions of New Stories from the South, and numerous college literature textbooks from such publishers as Simon & Schuster, Norton, Viking, Little Brown & Co., Houghton Mifflin, Oxford University Press, Prentice Hall, and Bedford/St. Martin and most recently in The New Granta Book of the American Short Story, edited by Richard Ford.
His works have been translated into eighteen languages, including Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Polish, Japanese, Serbian, Farsi, and Greek. Intercourse has already added two new languages in forthcoming editions—Czech and Estonian. He was also a charter recipient of the Tu Do Chinh Kien Award given by the Vietnam Veterans of America for "outstanding contributions to American culture by a Vietnam veteran."
Over the past twelve years, he has lectured in universities, appeared at conferences, and met with writers' groups in 16 countries as a Literary Envoy for the U. S. State Department. Butler has also taught at McNeese State University, Wichita State University, and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop.
Since 1995 he has written feature-length screenplays for New Regency, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Disney, Universal Pictures, Baldwin Entertainment Group (for Robert Redford), and two teleplays for HBO. Typical of Hollywood, none of these movies he was hired to write ever made it to the screen. He is the Francis Eppes Distinguished Professor holding the Michael Shaara Chair in Creative Writing at Florida State University.
Robert Olen Butler lives in Capps, Florida, and is married to Clara G. Herrera.
Photo credit: www.robertolenbutler.com