Penobscot author Morgan Talty's debut book, "Night of the Living Rez," is available wherever books are sold. Credit: Courtesy of Tin House Publishing

To say that 2022 has been a good year for Penobscot Nation author Morgan Talty would be a bit of an understatement.

Talty, 31, who lives in Levant with his wife Jorden, has watched his debut short story collection, “Night of the Living Rez,” receive an avalanche of accolades since its release in July. This week the book was named one of the New York Times’ 100 best books of 2022, in the company of established authors like Barbara Kingsolver, Jennifer Egan, Cormac McCarthy and fellow Mainer Elizabeth Strout.

That’s in addition to the book being named in the past month to best books of the year lists by Time Magazine, Esquire, NPR and Publisher’s Weekly. In September, Talty won the 2022 New England Book Award for Fiction, and this month he was named a 2023 finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for fiction.

Talty, though, never saw it all coming.

“[This] success has been completely unexpected. I never thought in a million years it would do this well,” he said.

“Night of the Living Rez,” is a collection of 12 interrelated short stories about Penobscot people living on and around the Indian Island reservation published by Tin House. It has been praised for its striking imagery, irreverent humor and vividly realized characters.

The stories have struck a chord with readers from all backgrounds and parts of the country and world, readers have told Talty as he has traveled on a book tour — though he’s particularly proud that it has resonated with Indigenous people.

“I hear from people all the time about how much they love the book or how the book has affected them, and it reminds me, constantly, how powerful and important storytelling is,” Talty said. “So many people — Native and non-Native — have been cheering me and the book on, and that support has meant so much to me.”

Talty started a new position at the University of Maine this fall as an assistant professor of English. Next year, he will add another title to his resume: father. He and his wife are expecting a baby in the first half of the year. He’s also got more short stories to be published, and he’s working on an eventual follow-up to “Night of the Living Rez.”

For now, though, he’s enjoying his newfound status as a rising literary star.

“I’m just happy and overjoyed that the book has found a place in people’s hearts and minds,” he said.

“Night of the Living Rez” is available wherever books are sold.

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.