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Award-winning author reads excerpt from work

| Thursday, February 2, 2017

Kyle Muntz is the 2016 recipient of the Sparks Prize, an award given to a distinguished graduate of the Creative Writing graduate program.

Students send sections of writing to an anonymous judge, chosen by the director of the program each year, who decides the winner. Nicholas Sparks, renowned author and Notre Dame graduate class of 1988, created the Sparks Prize in 2001. Muntz is the 15th recipient of the award.

“Kyle is a lover of genre and writes in a swathe of them, including genres like the dystopic or the western romance. In this regard, I think he is a lovely fulfillment of the vision of Nicholas Sparks,” Joyelle McSweeney, current director of the Creative Writing Program, said of Muntz.

The Sparks Prize awards $20,000 to the winner to allow them to spend a year simply writing, with one stipulation of a requirement of one public reading. Muntz performed his reading at Hammes Bookstore.

Muntz read the first chapter of one of his new novels “The Effigies,” a novel which took inspiration from the anime “Evangelion,” as well as a section of his thesis novel, “The Holy Ghost.”

Carmen Maria Machado, author of “Her Body and Other Parties” among other novels, was the judge of the 2016 contest. Machado described Muntz’s work as “snapping and humming with a weirdness, queerness and eeriness in every sense of the word that I find utterly intoxicating — a cross between Karen Russell and Bryan Evenson with an atmosphere entirely their own.”

Most of Muntz’s novels take place in new, unique worlds, and he estimated that he has created over 10 of them.

“I usually start with a genre and a way of telling stories and then I pick it apart,” Muntz said. “ … I look for places where the familiar can become unfamiliar in a way that is interesting to me. I basically think, ‘What if this familiar thing was horrifying, and how do people who have to live with that deal with that?’”

Muntz said he has garnered much support and praise from his former peers and professors at the creative writing program.

“Kyle approaches prose genres with the enthusiasm and wonder of a kid on Christmas morning who immediately takes apart a complicated toy to see how it works and immediately assembles it in a grotesque humorous way,” McSweeney said.

Muntz, has already published five novels and his work has appeared Gone Lawn, Step Chamber, The Journal of Experimental Fiction and Fiction International. Additionally, he is developing a video game called “The Pale City,” an adventure that he finds less enjoyable than novel writing.

“It develops a world in the way a world works a lot more fully than my novels ever have,” Muntz said. “ … Writing my video game was a little bit more like writing a screenplay.”

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