Emily Nemens is a writer, illustrator, and editor. Her debut novel, The Cactus League, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in February 2020. The Los Angeles Times praised the book: “For a book about the notoriously languorous sport of baseball, this is a quick and often thrilling read. For a debut novel, it’s remarkably self-assured.” The New York Times Book Review wrote: “She provides her readers what amounts to a miniature, self-enclosed world that is funny and poignant and lovingly observed.” Her publicity tour for The Cactus League will take her to twenty cities.
In 2018, Nemens became the seventh editor of The Paris Review, the nation’s preeminent literary quarterly. Since her arrival, the magazine has seen record-high circulation, published two anthologies, and produced a second season of its acclaimed podcast. Previously, she coedited The Southern Review, a storied literary quarterly published at Louisiana State University. Nemens has spoken about editing at major literary conferences and in creative writing programs around the US, and she has been featured in the New York Times, Vogue Italia, and Vanity Fair.
As an illustrator, she’s published her work in The New Yorker, and her short stories have appeared in Esquire, n+1, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. Nemens grew up in Seattle and received her BA from Brown University, where she studied art history and studio art. She completed an MFA degree in fiction at Louisiana State University. She lives in New York and remains a Mariners fan.Download Bio
The Cactus LeagueA Novel
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
One of The Wall Street Journal's 10 New Books You Should Be Picking Up First In 2020 and one of The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of 2020. An explosive, character-driven odyssey through the world of baseball from Emily Nemens, the editor of The Paris Review. Humming with the energy of a ballpark before the first pitch, Emily Nemens' The Cactus League unravels the tightly connected web of people behind a seemingly linear game. It’s a journey that, like the Arizona desert, brims with both possibility and destruction.
The Cactus League and other Leagues: Community Fiction Nemens discusses the ensemble structure in the novel.
Women in Sports Literature: The Cactus League and Beyond Nemens discusses the role of women in her novel and in other modern and contemporary portrayals.
The Debut Novelist, from the Writer’s Desk and the Editor’s Nemens discusses writing and publishing a debut novel, and how, as an editor, she helps other emerging writers grow.
Literary Fiction and the Publishing Landscape Nemens discusses literary publishing in the twenty-first century, from literary quarterlies and other entry points, to big-five publishing.
Literary Magazines: Then, Now, and Tomorrow Nemens discusses the history and future of literary magazines in American letters.
Emily Nemens recently interviewed with LitHub in their monthly Author Questionnaire.
Listen to NPR’s Weekend Edition podcast interview with Nemens.
The official website of Major League Baseball posted their interview with Nemens, calling The Cactus League not your “standard baseball book.”
The Washington Post recently gave a raving review for The Cactus League.
Emily to be in conversation with Joshua Wheeler at the Garden District Book Shop.
The Wall Street Journal named The Cactus League as one of the “Top 10 New in 2020.”
Check out Emily’s recent profile and interview with Vanity Fair.
Read Poets & Writers‘ Q&A with Emily on her new role as Editor at The Paris Review.
Emily is an editor of the quarterly literary magazine, The Paris Review.
-Cody Delistraty, The Wall Street Journal
"Nemens delivers an engaging, eccentric cast of players, coaches, families, and others who inhabit the world of baseball . . . From start to finish, Nemens captures the spirit of the game."
"[A] quirky first novel . . . [The Cactus League] showcases a fascinating gallimaufry of characters who swirl around the edges of the springtime ritual . . . Nemens finds a kind of attenuated hope along with melancholy in these sharply etched character studies that “end not with ‘out three’ but ‘out maybe.’'"
-Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
"[An] insightful debut . . . each character is brought to life in convincing detail . . . this debut entertainingly illuminates people and problems usually overlooked in the sports pages."
"Emily Nemens's magnificent debut is a masterwork of great empathy and detail, uncovering the realms of incredible pain and beauty enmeshed within every level of America's pastime. If you love baseball, you won't put it down, and if you don't love baseball, you might by the end."
—J. Ryan Stradal, author of The Lager Queen of Minnesota and Kitchens of the Great Midwest
"A debut? You’ve got to be kidding. The Cactus League reads like the work of a seasoned novelist. The way the story’s tension ramps, the richly drawn characters, the indelible imagery—you’ll never see a ball park the same—not to mention Emily Nemens’s knowledge of America’s pastime is downright encyclopedic. And while all those things are true, absolutely true, the heart of this amazing novel is Emily’s understanding of the crucibles faced by those both in the limelight and out of it. Goodyear and the rest of the gang are a cast for the ages. Hip hip hooray for this achievement."
—Mitchell S. Jackson, author of Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family
"The Cactus League is not just another baseball novel. I can't think of another book that so carefully examines the complex ecosystem of professional sport. With both compassion and objectivity, Emily Nemens deftly depicts the rich lives and stories that swirl beneath the ‘meaningless’ innings of spring training."
—Chris Bachelder, author of The Throwback Special
“Emily Nemens gets beneath the image—the macho chewing, spitting, ball fondling, the studied nonchalant distraction—to the real people on the field and off. She's a true fan, and one hell of a writer. The Cactus League is crisp, clean, funny, and just plain good. If you love baseball, and fiction, you'll love this book."
—Brad Watson, author of Miss Jane