The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Picture of Kristen Radtke

Kristen Radtke

Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference Faculty, 2018

Kristen Radtke is the author of the graphic nonfiction book Imagine Wanting Only This (Pantheon, 2017). She is the managing editor of Sarabande Books and the film & video editor of TriQuarterly magazine. She lives in New York.

Selected Media

"From Imagine Wanting Only This." Kristen Radkte, BOMB (Apr 11, 2017).

"In 1871, on the same day as the Great Chicago Fire, there was another, much larger fire in Wisconsin. Originating in Peshtigo, a logging community about 40 miles north of Green Bay (my hometown), it destroyed a massive section of the state and remains America's deadliest fire."


"A Graphic-Novel Memoir That Tangles With the Puzzle of Existence." Arnav Adhikari, The Atlantic (Apr 18, 2017).

"For Radtke, whose life has been punctuated with the passing of loved ones—from her grandmother to her beloved Uncle Dan, whose death from congenital heart failure serves as a worrying backdrop to her own occasional palpitations—empty mining towns and contaminated environmental zones provide an inexplicable form of comfort. They are historical markers of mortality, of how everything must eventually bend under the weight of time. In the same way that her family’s memory of her uncle begins to fade as the years go by, so disintegrating structures move on from what they once were."


"This artist turned our obsession with abandoned places into a graphic novel." Elizabeth Flock, Art Beat (June 6, 2017). Also features a video.

"It’s like this idea of “ruin porn,” which makes sense to me, but is also troubling. If you Google abandoned places, you find thousands of blogs and people who have wandered around these places, people commenting how beautiful it is, or how gorgeous the way a wall decays is. Very often the spaces are beautiful, but I think to look at something without context is to just aestheticize, or fetishize, like porn. You’re not looking for context, and I think that becomes very dangerous.

I think we sort of have to look at place like a traveler and not like a tourist. We have to remember that there is no such thing as entering a place without context. If we are ogling it, then it is all about the place, not about the people who were affected." (Kristen Radkte)


"The Loneliness of Longing for Other People's Apartments." Kristen Radtke, the New Yorker (Feb 14, 2017). See also "The Loneliness of the Parking Lot Phone Call" and "The Loneliness of the Subway Nap."

"I’ve lived alone in many apartments in the past decade, from a tiny, splintering studio in Iowa crawling with millipedes to a massive, cheap prewar in Kentucky that leaked each time it rained. I loved these apartments, the pride and comfort that came from opening a cabinet and finding things that belonged only to me."

"Kristen Radtke on publishing your first book." T. Cole Rachel, The Creative Independent (Aug 29, 2017).

"I think in any project you have that feeling about three dozen times—you think it’s coming together and actually it’s not. But that feeling is necessary in order for you to keep going [ . . . ] I’m trying to think of the point at which I felt like it was actually coming together…. It was probably after I got the book contract, because before that it felt like it would never happen. Even after I got the book contract, I felt like it would never happen. After I signed with Pantheon, I had so much work to do. I probably only had two complete chapters, which I ended up changing completely. So it wasn’t until I was halfway through that work period, after signing, that I felt like it was maybe possible that the book would be completed."