Andrew Ervin

Andrew Ervin is a fiction writer and critic living in Philadelphia. His first book was a collection of novellas, EXTRAORDINARY RENDITIONS (Coffee House Press). Publishers Weekly included it on its list of the Best Books of 2010, and the Huffington Post called it "one of the year's most memorable works of fiction." His short fiction has appeared in Conjunctions, The Southern Review, Fiction International, and elsewhere, including several anthologies. Since 1996, he has reviewed hundreds of books for the New York Times Book Review, USA Today, The Believer, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, Scotland on Sunday, and many other publications. His essays, criticism, and author interviews have appeared online at places such as Tin House, The Rumpus, Conversational Reading, and Book Slut, and in print at Ninth Letter, Rain Taxi, and American Book Review.

Ervin grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, earned a BA in Philosophy and Religion from Goucher College, and then lived in Budapest for five years. Upon his return to the States, he earned a master's degree in English Literature at Illinois State University and an MFA in Fiction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His debut novel, BURNING DOWN GEORGE ORWELL'S HOUSE, is forthcoming from Soho Press.

He has taught creative writing at Louisiana State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and currently teaches in the Honors Program at Temple University. The unabridged, 13-volume edition of THE GOLDEN BOUGH is never far from his desk and continues to inform most of the fiction he writes. He is married to the flutist Elivi Varga and can be found online at


Burning Down George Orwell

"A satire of a satire? Ervin's debut novel introduces us to Ray Welter, fictional Chicago ad man in existential crisis, who drops out to the Scottish isle of Jura - to rent the cottage where the father of modern satire wrote most of 1984. His plans involve a little bit of moping and a lot of the local single malt. Big Brother might not be watching him, but the island's eccentric locals sure are and also, possibly, a werewolf. High comedy ensues as Welter tries to find himself, Orwell and the savage beast." - Must Read Books, The New York Post

"BURNING DOWN GEORGE ORWELL'S HOUSE is an evocative novel of place that makes pointed commentaries about the 'wired world' of the 21st century that 1984 intuited... as all good comedies do, Ervin's novel contains a sober question at its core - in this case, whether the idea of 'escape' itself is just another manipulation sold to us 'proles' by the very same wired world that engulfs and exhausts us. Take a wild guess what George Orwell would say."Fresh Air, NPR

"BURNING DOWN GEORGE ORWELL'S HOUSE is fiction as high-wire act, and Ray Welter is a nowhere man for the ages, going down and out in the shadow of the man himself. Ervin tosses up hilarity and human, musicality and menace, with page after page of firecracker prose." - Marlon James, author of A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS

"In BURNING DOWN GEORGE ORWELL'S HOUSE, Ervin has achieved something uniquely refreshing: a book that shows the taste and restraint to pay knowing, affectionate and humorous tribute to George Orwell without trying to prove him right - or to create some redundant simulacrum of his work. That's no knock on other writers and pundits perceptive enough to identify unsettling echoes of 1984 in our contemporary society. But if BURNING DOWN GEORGE ORWELL'S HOUSE demonstrates one thing, it's that some Orwellians are more equal (to the task) than others." Paste Magazine

Bit By Bit

Andrew Ervin sets out to understand the explosive popularity of video games. He travels to government laboratories, junk shops, and arcades. He interviews scientists and game designers, both old and young. In charting the material and technological history of video games, from the 1950s to the present, he suggests that their appeal starts and ends with the sense of creativity they instill in gamers. As Ervin argues, games can be art because they are beautiful, moving, and even political.

"[BIT BY BIT is] a personal journey that speaks volumes on how video games have grown, evolved, and multipled to fill myriad roles over the years." - Publisher's Weekly

"It's the perfect video game book: part gamers' history, part history of games - and by a writer more inclined to philosophical insights and literary reference than to mere product description. Extra hearts for a history that actually includes the contributions of women, too!" - Amber Sparks, author of May We Shed These Human Bodies

"A fun and insightful analysis of the cultural, educational, and historical value of video games. Ervin deftly traces the evolution of our most interactive art form from Adventure to Minecraft, while offering riveting first-hand accounts from many of the men and women who made it all happen. BIT BY BIT is an essential addition to every video game lover's library." - Ernest Cline, author of Ready Player One and Armada