Novelist Prof to Share Latest Creation at Lecture
Research for 'The Night Swimmer' Sent Instructor to Open-Sea Race Off Ireland

The Night Swimmer by Matt Bondurant

The Night Swimmer

What do you get when you mix a deep-sea swimmer, a troubled marriage, an Irish pub and a goat that walks upright on two legs?  The answer is Dr. Matt Bondurant’s third novel, The Night Swimmer.

Bondurant, assistant professor in creative writing and literature, will discuss his new book Wednesday, Feb. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in Jonsson Performance Hall.

“I’m glad to have the opportunity to share my work with the DFW community, and particularly the students at UT Dallas.  I feel it is a public testament to our mission as educators and artists, to provide these kinds of events where students can see their professors interacting and performing in a professional capacity,” Bondurant said.

The Night Swimmer is set in a small town on the southern coast of Ireland, an isolated place frequented only by fishermen and the occasional group of bird-watchers. Fred and Elly Bulkington arrive from Vermont after winning a pub in a contest.  They encounter a wild, strange land shaped by the pounding storms of the North Atlantic, as well as the native resistance to strangers.

As Fred revels in his life as new pub owner, Elly takes the ferry out to a nearby island where anyone not born there is called a “blow-in.” She devotes herself to open-water swimming, pushing herself to the limit and crossing unseen boundaries that drive her into the heart of the island’s troubles—the mysterious tragedy that shrouds its inhabitants. A dangerous feud between an enigmatic farmer and a powerful clan has no use for outsiders.

Assistant Professor Matt Bondurant talks about The Wettest County in the World, his novel that is being made into a film that will be released this summer.

In researching the book, Bondurant competed in The Beginish Island Swim, a four-mile race around an island just off the western coast of Ireland.

“I was a competitive swimmer in my youth and water polo player in college, and over the last 15 years I’ve been an itinerant triathlete and masters swimmer,” said Bondurant in blogging about his research.

“During the swim I got my goggles knocked off by a wave, climbed through heavy seaweed, got lost, nearly puked, and had a few run-ins with some aquatic wildlife. It was a chaotic, exhilarating, occasionally terrifying, and overall extremely satisfying experience.”

Bondurant took second place in the wet suit division, swimming the four miles in 1 hour and 34 minutes.

The Night Swimmer has received reviews from The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Daily Beast. His 2008 book The Wettest County in the World is currently being made into a movie. Bondurant’s first novel, The Third Translation, was an international bestseller, translated into 14 languages worldwide. His short fiction has been published in journals such as Prairie Schooner and The New England Review. In 2008, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His poetry has recently appeared in Ninth Letter, The Notre Dame Review, and other journals, as well as anthologized in Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft, a widely adopted creative writing text. His reviews and essays have appeared in journals such as The Southeast Review and The Northern Virginia Review.

Bondurant has a PhD in English and creative writing from Florida State University.

The film tells the story of a Virginia family that is heavily involved in the moonshine business.

Film Based on Prof's 2nd BookSet for Release This Summer

Dr. Matt Bondurant’s 2008 book, The Wettest County in the World, is about to make the leap to the big screen with an all-star cast.

The story is set in Prohibition-era Virginia and is inspired by Bondurant’s grandfather and great-­uncles, the Bondurant Boys, who ran moonshine during the Great Depression.

Forrest, the eldest brother, is fierce but also the consummate businessman. Howard, the middle brother, is besieged by the horrors he witnessed in the Great War. Jack, the youngest, has a taste for luxury and a dream to get out of Franklin County, Va.

The Wettest County in the World

The men struggle to keep their illegal business afloat in the face of the Great Depression and a drought.

 “I have a feeling it’s going to be a good film, and I’m excited to see it. It’s pretty bizarre because they’re using the same names, so my grandfather is going to be up there on the screen. It’s a very surreal experience,” Bondurant said.

The film will star Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman and Mia Wasikowska. It is directed by John Hillcoat, who also directed The Road, and is set for release in August.

  Shia LaBeoufTom HardyGuy Pearce


    Jessica Chastain Gary Oldman Mia Wasikowska

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].