J. Ryan Stradal lives and works in Los Angeles County, California.
He grew up in the Midwest, in the southern Minnesota town of Hastings, where he often failed his driver's license exams, and graduated from Northwestern University, where he often slipped on the ice. He does not own a gun and a motorcycle, which makes him unique among the men in his extended family.
His second novel, The Lager Queen of Minnesota, was published by Viking / Pamela Dorman Books in July 2019. Receiving starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and BookPage, it became a national bestseller its first week of release, and was named one of the best books of the year by NPR, USA Today, Booklist, Paste, and the Texas Library Association, among other places. In 2019, he did a sixty-one-stop book tour that took him to bookstores, libraries, and breweries in fifteen states between July and December. The TV rights for Lager Queen are presently being negotiated.
In 2020, The Lager Queen of Minnesota was named the winner of the WILLA Literary Award (by Women Writing the West, to honor the best in literature, featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the West that are published each year) and was a finalist for the Heartland Booksellers Award.
His first novel, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, was published by Viking / Pamela Dorman Books on July 28th, 2015, and reached the New York Times Hardcover Best Seller list at #19 on its third week of release. In April 2016, the American Booksellers Association voted Kitchens the Indies Choice Book of the Year Award – Adult Debut Winner. In July 2016, the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association awarded it the 2016 Midwest Booksellers Choice Award for the year's top fiction book, and in October 2016, the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association also named Kitchens the year's top novel.
So far, Kitchens has been acquired for publication overseas in twelve countries (Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom). Back in November 2014, before it was published, the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society awarded Kitchens of the Great Midwest first prize in their annual novel competition. He's extremely grateful for the places that put it on their 2015 best-of lists.
His shorter writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Review of Books, BuzzFeed, CNET, VanityFair.com, The Rumpus, Hobart, Granta, Boulevard, Joyland, Midnight Breakfast, Los Angeles Magazine, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Electric Literature, Midwestern Gothic, The Towner, The Rattling Wall, The Nervous Breakdown, Bright Wall / Dark Room, Goodreads, Monkeybicycle, The California Prose Directory (2013), American Short Fiction (online), Knee-Jerk Magazine, Insomniac, Longitude, Trop, Cedars, Facsimile, Marguerite Avenue, This Recording, NFL.com, and in McSweeney's “The Goods”. He also contributed field reports for the serialized iPad/iPod novel “The Silent History."
A selection of his short stories, compiled under the title "Nerd & Whore are Friends," was a 2013 finalist in the Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Competition. His short fiction has also been anthologized and named a finalist for the James Kirkwood Literary Prize.
In addition to trying to write short stories and novels, he was a contributing editor at TASTE from 2017 to 2019. Previously, he was the fiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown from 2013 to 2016, and an editor-at-large at Unnamed Press in Los Angeles from 2015 to 2017. He was also co-editor, with Adam Cushman, of Critically Acclaimed, a compendium of "real reviews of fake movies," published by Rare Bird in January 2018, and editor of the 2014 California Prose Directory, an anthology of writing about California by California writers, published by Outpost19.
He volunteers for & is on the advisory board of the educational non-profit 826LA. He's also helped create products and materials for their affiliated store, the Echo Park Time Travel Mart.
He co-produces, with Summer Block, the literary/culinary series “HOT DISH," which has featured Shauna Barbosa, Sara Benincasa, Cecil Castellucci, Steph Cha, Jade Chang, Carina Chocano, George Ducker, Lauren Eggert-Crowe, Gina Frangello, Ann Friedman, Rico Gagliano, Jim Gavin, Amelia Gray, James Hannaham, Heather Havrilesky, Meg Howrey, Peter Hsu, Julia Ingalls, Kima Jones, Siel Ju, Taleen Kali, Brad Listi, Ben Loory, Lou Mathews, Tracy McMillan, Mary Otis, Lilliam Rivera, Davy Rothbart, Jen Sincero, Stacey Vanek Smith, Ramesh Srinivasan, Jerry Stahl, Chris Terry, Diana Wagman, and Alissa Walker, among many others.
He has often worked in television, story editing or producing shows for VH-1, MTV, ABC, FOX, TLC, A&E, Discovery, and History. Working primarily for Original Productions from 2008 to 2014, he was the senior story producer on “Deadliest Catch” and “Ice Road Truckers” and a supervising producer on “IRT: Deadliest Roads,” "Storage Wars," and “Storage Wars: Texas.”
He was also associate producer on Chad Hartigan's film “This Is Martin Bonner,” which won the Audience Award for Best Of NEXT at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013.
He likes books, wine, sports, root beer, craft beer, and peas.