The Collected Fiction of Kenneth Koch

Fiction by Kenneth Koch, edited by Jordan Davis, Karen Koch, and Ron Padgett, with an introduction by Jordan Davis

October 1, 2005 • 6 x 9 • 408 pages • 978-1-56689-180-6

Collected fiction from one of America’s finest writers.

Hilarious and profoundly moving, this volume restores to print all the fiction of the writer whom John Ashbery called “simply the best we have.” An essential book for anyone interested in discovering what American literature might still hope to be, Collected Fiction includes Koch’s rambunctious novel The Red Robins as well as his semi-autobiographical stories from Hotel Lambosa. “The New Orleans Stories” and “The Soviet Room” appear here for the first time along with Koch’s previously uncollected short fiction—a warmhearted parody of a children’s adventure narrative and a story detailing the mysteries uncovered by an obsessive postcard detective. Collected here for the first time, Kenneth Koch’s fiction creates an optimistic and comic world in which the pursuit of happiness is taken very seriously.

About the Author

Kenneth Koch (1925 – 2002), known for his association with the New York School of poetry, wrote many collections of poetry, fictions, plays, and nonfiction. His books include Seasons on Earth, On the Edge, Thank You and Other Poems, The Art of Love, One Thousand Avant-Garde Plays, Hotel Lambosa, and Collected Fiction, as well as several books on teaching children to write poetry. Koch was awarded numerous honors, including the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, awarded by the Library of Congress in 1996, as well as awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Fulbright, Guggenheim, and Ingram-Merrill foundations. In 1996 he was inducted as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


“As a teenager and aspiring writer I always told myself I wanted to be to novel-writing what Kenneth Koch was to poetry: the funniest serious writer and the happiest sad writer going, an experimenter with forms who was so intoxicatingly personal and insouciant that you’d never balk at his radicalism. So far as I knew he’d left the field clear. Perhaps it was lucky for me that I hadn’t yet discovered the mad and masterful Red Robins, or the stories from Hotel Lambosa and after, including the glittering ‘New Orleans’ cycle. I might have concluded there wasn’t anything left for me to accomplish. But by now I’m safe and it’s lucky for us all that you’re holding Koch’s collected fiction in your hands right now. Koch’s seasons on our earth were blessed ones and these traces, some of them among his last, are gifts.” —Jonathan Lethem

“Collecting Kenneth Koch’s fiction is an inspiring and necessary undertaking. In its scope and variety it reveals an essential if little-known aspect of Koch’s genius, one in which his redoubtable wit, imagination, and intelligence exploit the possibilities of prose to create dazzling effects that in an altogether novel way match those of his poetry.” —Harry Matthews