Author Photo 2.jpeg

Matt Sumell is a graduate of UC Irvine's MFA Program in Writing. His short fiction has since appeared in the Paris Review, Esquire, Electric Literature, One Story, Noon, Freeman’s, and elsewhere. His first collection, MAKING NICE, is available in stores now.


“Mr. Sumell's savage humor is thrilling, and Alby (who never speaks without his foot in his mouth) is loathsome, exasperating and endearing all at once.” ―New York Times

“Alby is Holden Caulfield in the Internet age: a central character unable to see past his own pain and hell-bent on flaming anyone before they can get too close.... The repetitive nature of his lashing out makes this brash tale both fun to read and one that will stick with the reader for its painful honesty.... Sumell gets closer to the heart of loss than many writers.... Making Nice is a profane, angry screed of a novel, but Sumell's care when wielding Alby's brash voice shows a kind of skill focused on getting closest to his character's distress.” ―The Los Angeles Times

“Cringe-inducingly funny...linked by Alby's oddly endearing ineptitude, his constantly lowering expectations and the solace he takes when, for a brief moment or two, life becomes 'something a little less than bad.'” ―Wall Street Journal

Making Nice has an anarchic humour and a goofy, ingenuous humanity that makes every page feel new.... In its rampage to nowhere, Making Nice achieves the remarkable feat of making it feel better to travel hopelessly than to arrive.” ―The Guardian

“Sumell's compulsively readable novel in stories introduces a restless underachiever as irresistible as he is detestable, surely one of the most morally, violently, socially complex personalities in recent literature…. Sumell's debut is humbly macho, provoking outrage, pity, and finally tenderness. Perhaps this is a book readers will hate to love, but only because it feels, like Alby, all too real.” ―Booklist, Starred Review

“From the first page, Sumell's exceptional novel in stories unleashes one of the most comically arresting voices this side of Sam Lipsyte's Homeland...Sumell's debut demonstrates an almost painful compassion for the sinner in most of us, making Making Nice even more fun than eavesdropping in a confession booth.” ―Publisher's Weekly, Starred Review

“Darkly funny...Matt Sumell's coarse tone belies tender insight into grief.” ―US Weekly

“Sumell's strong which his wounded protagonist Alby lashes out hilariously and pathetically against men, women, siblings, toasters, garbage cans, and life itself. Like Stanley Kowalski without the proletarian nobleness-or barely acceptable social skills, for that matter-Alby is a punch-first, ask questions-never kind of galoot.” ―Entertainment Weekly

“Sumell's shrapnel-sharp sense of humor is never more than a sentence away. By the time you're finished, you'll want more of Alby, which is good because his creator's just getting started.” ―GQ

“The talented Sumell infuses the 20 linked stories in his first collection with the full emotional range of grief. Alby, his narrator, is infuriating and touching by turn, a young man stripped raw by his mother's death and tempted into misbehaviour at every turn...Making Nice introduces a writer who can be both tough and heartbreakingly tender.” ―Jane Ciabattari, BBC

“Propulsive... Sumell's language is sharp and funny and unrelenting, but his best trick is to make the reader forget how unwittingly cruel Alby can be by offering up unexpected scenes of deep and sorrowful humanity. Then, just as the reader begins warming to him, Sumell reminds us of Alby's inability to make nice.... By the end, Sumell makes a convincing argument that sometimes 'sharp pain is better than an ache.” ―Manuel Gonzales, The New York Times Book Review

Making Nice is hilarious in its prose, but painful in its nakedness.” ―The Paris Review Daily

“A wickedly funny, deeply moving gut punch of a book.” ―Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins and We Live in Water

“Sumell nails something about his generation which is feat enough, but beneath the funniness and swagger and freshness and raw energy is a sincerity that is rare and true. In that way in particular I find this to be a tremendously hopeful book.” ―Aimee Bender, author of The Girl In the Flammable Skirt and The Color Master

“[A] bristling new short story collection... Sumell is a gifted conjurer, and his portrait of Alby is brilliantly lifelike.... vivid and heartfelt and animated by a distinctive voice.” ―Newsday

“Funny and moving...a confident debut with a strong and youthful voice that refuses to accept life's injustices.” ―The Irish Times

“Alby is absolutely fantastic-Matt Sumell has created one of the most memorable and pathetic characters in recent contemporary fiction, and his dysfunctional family belongs in the hall of fame for all-time literary train wrecks.” ―Fiction Advocate

“Unforgettable…The stories, narrated by the same character, Alby, about existing in the wake of his mother's death are hilarious, wrenching, dirty, and heartbreaking all at once -- I'm not entirely sure how Sumell pulls it off, but he does. Watch this book soar.” ―Bustle

“Sumell offers a first collection linked by antihero Alby, who does anything but make nice. Destroyed by his mother's death, he takes out his feelings on other family members, slow drivers, children, old ladies--anyone who gets in his way. Not a portrait of nastiness but of how sometimes we can be utterly bent by grief and rage.” ―Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal *Ten Big Breakout Authors*

“To say that Matt Sumell is an original voice is an immense understatement. Making Nice is ferocious and merciful, comic and heartbreaking. It will turn you inside out.” ―Ramona Ausubel, author of No One is Here Except All of Us and A Guide to Being Born

“The self-destructive narrator of these stories lashes out with reckless intimacy, random violence, and an often hilarious misplaced rage that shoots to wound rather than kill. What saves its victims and the reader is a naked rendering of a heart sorting through its broken pieces to survive. The result is an eloquent empathy, an uplift of hope-filled grace.” ―Mark Richard, author of Charity and House of Prayer No. 2

“Sumell's Alby is a character you have not seen before in fiction...Hilarious, offensive, endearing, uncompromising, and brutally honest, he is far too demanding of polite society that one must live life to its most massive fullness, no matter how often he gets bludgeoned, humiliated, and kicked in the groin. Deft and gripping, a book about a fractured family and the fundamentally insane qualities of enduring, insatiable love.” ―Brad Watson, author of Last Days of the Dog-Men and Aliens in the Prime of their Lives

“Funny, powerful... Sumell's surehanded writing makes Alby both fascinating and perversely rootable, not to mention darkly hilarious.” ―7x7

“With Barry Hannah's death, I thought I'd never hear a new, real, hard voice again, a James Dickey kind of voice, a ‘wild to be wreckage forever' sound that makes a reader shout hurrah! Ferocious, fearless, extremely pitched fiction is near extinction. May the gust of Matt Sumell's brilliant book Making Nice remind readers of what great work delivers: humor and cruelty, horror and heartwreck in contemporary work written for all time.” ―Christine Schutt, author of Florida and Prosperous Friends

“There's a special alchemy here that you are going to want to witness as Matt Sumell takes us smartly into each of these stories, offhand and funny, and then the tender heart emerges from the shadows, so tender, and comes at us with a knife. Every story here is two: one the fun, the other the blade.” ―Ron Carlson, author of A Kind of Flying and Five Skies

Making Nice will grab you by the throat, raise your blood pressure, and cause you to crack up in a crowd. It will also break your heart. When they're writing the history of the best characters of our time, Alby will be there, telling the others to get in line.” ―Matthew Thomas, bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves

“I am astonished by Matt Sumell's performance in Making Nice...Using cunning, reckless rage, and bravura comic timing, Alby kicks death's ass.” ―Geoffrey Wolff, author of The Duke of Deception and A Day at the Beach