Franz Nicolay’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, The Paris Review Daily, The Kenyon Review Online, Ploughshares, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Threepenny Review, LitHub, Longreads, Fiction Advocate, The Week, VICE, Noisey, Talkhouse, NewMusicBox, Blender, Impose, InDigest, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He was a contributor to the anthologies It All Changed In An Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs; Rock Torch: Volume 1, a collection of musicians recommending other musicians; The Road Most Traveled, a collection of essays about touring life; and Waiting To Be Forgotten: Stories of Crime and Heartbreak Inspired by The Replacements. He studied writing at Columbia University (where he was awarded a Felipe P. de Alba Fellowship). He was awarded writing fellowships by the Ucross Foundation and the Edward F. Albee Foundation, and has taught at Bard College, Columbia University, and UC Berkeley.

THL cover

His first book, The Humorless Ladies of Border Control: Touring the Punk Underground from Belgrade to Ulaanbaatar (The New Press, 2016), was named a “Season’s Best Travel Book” by The New York Times (read press here).










His second book (and first novel) Someone Should Pay For Your Pain is forthcoming in spring 2021 on Gibson House Press.








It’ll be followed in 2022 by Band People, a study of the working and creative lives of musicians, for the American Music Series at University of Texas Press.

The four Complicated Gardening Techniques chapbooks are, sadly, permanently out of print.



Wagner Was Too Big To CancelSlate, October 2020

Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight?Hyped On Melancholy, June 2020

Gould/Solitude,” Moistworks, June 2020

Housebreaker,” Hindsight Magazine (short fiction), February 2020

The Outlined Subject,” Ploughshares, June 2019

“If It Happened Here: Dubravka Ugresic’s American Fictionary,” Threepenny Review, Spring 2019

Mermaid Lounge Was A Total Circus,” Punch Drink, November 2018

Why Charles Aznavour’s Global Fame Never Reached American Shores,” The Paris Review Daily, October 2018

Non Fui, Fui, Non Sum, Non Curo,” Kenyon Review Online (short fiction), Sept/Oct. 2018

Gene Fowler: Prince of the Purple,” Threepenny Review, Summer 2018

The 21st-Century Family Band,” Slate, February 2018

Sing, Muse: Three New Books on Literature and Pop Music,” The LA Review of Books (book review), October 2017

‘Good Booty’: The Sexual Power of Music,” The New York Times (book review), August 2017

The Rise and Decline of the ‘Sell-out’,” Slate, July 2017

De-Graded: Music Criticism and Regressive Reading” (op-ed), Watt, July 2017

Was This It?” (book review), Slate, June 2017

On Listening to Jens Lekman in January 2017,” The Talkhouse, February 2017

The Inevitable Institutionalization of Rock,” Watt, December 2016

A Stranger In The World,” Longreads, October 2016

Dispatches From A Punk Tour of the Balkans,” LitHub, 2016

The Hotel Mongolia,” Fiction Advocate, 2016

Editorial: The Fair Play Fair Pay Act and why copyright law needs to change,” Punknews, 2016

What You Missed When You Stopped Listening At Prince’s Best-known Albums,” The Week, 2016

“Changing The Country, We Apologize For The Inconvenience” Part One Part Two Part ThreeNoisey/Vice, 2014