Kimberly King Parsons '10 Releases New Novel 'We Were the Universe'

Carlos Barragán
June 10, 2024

Writing alumna Kimberly King Parsons ’10 has published her debut novel, We Were the Universe (Knopf, 2024). The novel is an exploration of sisterhood, motherhood, friendship, marriage, psychedelics, and the many strange, transcendent shapes love can take.

We Were the Universe follows Kit as she embarks on a weekend getaway to the Montana mountains with her best friend, meant to rekindle their old times. Instead, their getaway only reminds Kit of everything she’s lost lately: her wildness, her independence, and—most heartbreaking of all—her sister, Julie, who died a few years ago.

Back home in Dallas, Kit struggles to maintain her routine of caring for her daughter, navigating her marriage, and dealing with her mother’s calls. She finds herself reminiscing about the band she used to be in—and how they’d go out to the desert after shows and drop acid—and imagining impossible threesomes with her kid’s pretty gymnastics teacher and the cool playground mom. Keyed into everything that might distract from her surfacing pain, Kit spirals. As her already thin boundaries between reality and fantasy blur, she begins to wonder: Is Julie really gone?

hand holding up book: We Were the Universe

“Kimberly King Parsons sings the lushest, cruelest, kindest, weirdest, darkest and most hilarious songs on paper,” said Karen Russell '06, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Swamplandia! “I want to hang these sentences in my house and admire them like the interdimensional multisensory illuminated artworks they truly are.”

Born in Lubbock, Texas, Kimberly King Parsons earned a BA in English and an MA in Literary Studies (emphasis on the works of William Faulkner) from the University of Texas at Dallas. Parsons’s book reviews and interviews have appeared in Bookforum, BOMB, Time Out New York, The Millions, and elsewhere. She has been awarded residencies from Yaddo, Hermitage Artist Retreat, Tasajillo Writers Residency, Dairy Hollow, Baltic Writing Residencies, San Ysidro Ranch, the Gullkistan Center for Creativity, the Lillian E. Smith Center, Hypatia-in-the-Woods, and PLAYA. Parsons is the recipient of fellowships from Columbia University, Yaddo, Hermitage Artist Retreat, the Oregon Arts Commission, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation; her fiction has been published in The Paris Review, New York Tyrant, Black Warrior Review, No Tokens, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Parsons’ story collection Black Light was a finalist for the 2020 Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, the 2020 Texas Institute of Letters Best Work of First Fiction Award, and the 2020 Oregon Book Award.