Longlisted for The Center for Fiction 2019 First Novel Prize 


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“Chapman's book is one of the funniest American novels to come around in years, a sharp satire of the literary scene as well as the broken prison system. Despite the grim subject matter, Chapman packs more laughs into 128 pages than most sitcoms do in an entire season. Dark, daring, and laugh-out-loud hilarious, Riots I Have Known is one of the smartest — and best — novels of the year.”
Michael Shaub, NPR

“A compact cluster bomb of satire that kills widely and indiscriminately… If you’re part of the Venn diagram that subscribes to n+1 and McSweeney’s, this is the funnest book you’ll read all year.”
Ron Charles, The Washington Post

Amazon’s Best of the Month & Featured Debut: “A spitfire of a novel: funny, abrasive, and intelligent.”

An Apple Books Best Book of May: “Ryan Chapman establishes himself a master of wit, satire, and heart.”

The Best Books to Read in 2019,” Town and Country

7 Highly Anticipated Debut Novels to Check Out this Spring,” Los Angeles Times

“[A] funny and excellent debut… Supremely mischievous and sublimely written, this is a stellar work.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[A] gritty, bracing debut… Told in searing, high velocity prose.”
Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire

Riots I Have Known is truly one-of-a-kind: It can be read in one sitting, provides at least 50 laughs out loud, and keeps you in constant awe of the author's writing abilities. It's nothing short of outstanding.”
Brian Turk, Chronogram

“Like a Nabokov novel written by a character who is constantly snorting Ritalin.”
Chad Post, Three Percent

“Chapman’s satirical jab packs a full-fledged punch.”
The Millions

“[A] debut novel that is as eccentric as it comes but also fitfully funny and murderously wry. . . those who appreciate a genuinely original stylist and acidly dark humor will find it an odd treat.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Chapman’s bravura performance is piquant, rollicking, and richly provoking.”


“Ryan Chapman’s Riots I Have Known joins Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room on the short list of truly remarkable American prison novels. Chapman’s debut is literally riotous: an improbably beguiling, utterly ribald provocation, something like Lenny Bruce’s ‘Father Flotsky’s Triumph’ as retold by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man.”
Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Feral Detective

"Savage, fearless, and funny as hell, Riots I Have Known also possesses, not so strangely, a poignant core. In this mother of all editor's notes, Ryan Chapman creates a narrative voice that is by turns tender, cruel, profane, wildly inventive, and, finally, unforgettable."
Sam Lipsyte, author of Hark and The Ask

"Riots I Have Known is a multivalent title: Ryan Chapman’s debut is about a prison riot, unfurls a riot of word-drunk prose, and, most of all, is itself a riot, a virtuoso vocal performance of acidic seriocomedy whose forebears are Thomas Bernhard’s discursive monologues, Frederick Exley’s deadpan wit, and Kafka’s Kafkaesqueness, but which is ultimately, as they say, all Chapman’s own. It’s hard to find a single sentence that isn’t polished to a brilliant luster in this lacerating shiv of a novel."
Teddy Wayne, author of Loner and The Love Song of Jonny Valentine

"Hilarious, original, and cunningly wrought, Ryan Chapman has written a rocket-powered ode to literary creation and mass incarceration. Weaving satire and seriousness into a singularly rambunctious monologue, rollicking and oddly recognizable at once, Riots I Have Known is a breath of fresh air."
Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine and Intimations

"With Riots I Have Known, Ryan Chapman has delivered a keen satire of America’s criminal justice crisis. The novel is remarkable for many things not the least of which are its wit, humor, and masterful language. I was impressed again and again, and I wager so too will readers with working hearts and brains."
Mitchell S. Jackson, award-winning author of Survival Math and The Residue Years

“Ryan Chapman is an exceptional stylist, and his range of reference runs from Fredric Jameson and Kafka to Carly Rae Jepsen and Kinfolk. Riots I Have Known is a smart, rambunctious, and (it just so happens) riotously funny debut novel. It's a book you don't so much read as ride like a roller coaster—i.e. very quickly, while hanging on for dear life and maybe screaming—and as soon as it's over you'll want to ride again.”
Justin Taylor, author of Flings and The Gospel of Anarchy

Riots I Have Known moves at breakneck pace as a pent-up con runs free across every page. Chapman is his very own, and this is a book readers will devour.”
Amelia Gray, author of Gutshot and Isadora

Riots I Have Known is a wild yawp from the literary frontier that brings to mind both Roberto Bolaño and Thomas Bernhard. It is relentless, hilarious, and unabashedly smart. It's my new favorite manifesto and I loved every last page.”
Scott Cheshire, author of High as the Horses’ Bridles

“Had Humbert Humbert started a literary journal from prison and penned a jailbreak scene with the spectacular absurdity of the one in Natural Born Killers, there would be a clear antecedent for Riots I Have Known. As it is, Ryan Chapman's book is fiercely original, darkly hilarious, and morally complex. Strong voice, both sympathetic and sharp as a shiv, calls the reader farther and farther into a prison on fire. Chapman's ability to play simultaneously in the two keys of gleeful wit and menace reminded me of Aravind Adiga's polytonality in White Tiger.”
Will Chancellor, author of A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall