News & Events
Audible gives listeners a true crime story that transfixed the Gilded Age
SEPTEMBER 2, 2021 — Takers Mad, the twisting tale of a real 1890s murder that gripped New Yorkers and was attributed by the police and press to Jack the Ripper, was released by Audible Originals. Written by author Luke Jerod Kummer and voiced by award-winning actor Khristine Hvam, the tantalizing drama takes listeners back to an infamous Manhattan crime that resembled the killing spree in the White Chapel slums of London a few years prior. Now nearly forgotten, it caused a media frenzy on both sides of the Atlantic. Amid the ensuing hysteria and during a time rife with fears of increasing immigration, Ameer Ben Ali, an itinerant Algerian ex-soldier, was arrested by detectives and eventually charged with the homicide. He spent nearly a dozen years behind bars and in an asylum. But, following a police corruption scandal, questions emerged about whether authorities had penalized the right man. Based on in-depth historical research including reviewing transcripts and combing through archives, which revealed fresh findings in the case, Kummer presents an intriguing narrative that today's listeners will find has eerie echoes in contemporary news and events. This carefully plotted historical fiction audiobook is available exclusively on Audible.
Marie Claire Greece Interviews Author of Picasso Novel
AUGUST 25, 2021 — The Greek edition of the international fashion, lifestyle and culture magazine, Marie Claire, interviewed Luke Jerod Kummer for its August issue. The author discussed researching and writing The Blue Period, a novel about the tragic events that led a young Pablo Picasso to paint somber portraits before Cubism transformed the artist into an international celebrity. The book was translated into Greek earlier this year and published by Klidarithmos.
When the magazine's editor Αναστασία Καμβύση asked Kummer whether it was hard to portray a world-famous painter, he admitted it was difficult to render someone who has been written about so extensively. "Many readers arrive with strong feelings. Some place Picasso on a pedestal — the consummate genius. Others cringe at his name," Kummer said. "But in the literature that I enjoy, even gods and monsters are all-too human. More so, humans whom we cast as god or monster."
— Read the full article in Greek on Marie Claire's website.
Public Invited To Take Part In Author Discussion
MARCH 12, 2021 | By Jackie Gorski, Times-Union staff writer
People can listen to author Luke Kummer talk about his book about Pablo Picasso and his writing process during a Zoom event through Ivy Tech Warsaw at 10 a.m. March 25.
Kummer's book, "The Blue Period," talks about the early life of Picasso, from being a child to his post-adolescent life, Kummer said.
While Picasso lived to be 91, Kummer's book ends in 1904, when Picasso was roughly 23.
At this point in time, Picasso was poor and wasn't known as the artist that he now is, Kummer said.
A personal tragedy changed Picasso.
A friend, Casagemas, went with Picasso to Paris to visit the World's Fair in 1900. There, Casagemas fell in love with Laure Gargallo, who ultimately spurned his affections. Casagemas committed suicide in 1901, Kummer said.
Picasso was tranformed by this. He had worked in lively styles before this and then he went into a deep depression and used a lot of blues and greens, Kummer said.
He said while he doesn't have a background in art history, he was, in a way, drawn to the story of how one event can change a man and art in general.
During the Zoom event, Kummer also will be talking about his writing process.
He will speak about writing with empathy. He said writing is about understanding your subject and conveying that information.
The Zoom event is open to the public.
"The Zoom class will occur during one of my normal class time periods with Zoom, but Ivy Tech Warsaw has allowed us to open the session to the public," said Shari Benyousky, professor of English and humanities at Ivy Tech.
People can register by going to ivytech.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUvduyoqjMtGtSjdgSGazFSkA_0-KqhJkvT.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting, Benyousky said.
Benyousky explained how the event happened.
"My friend Danielle Boggs-Robertson, an actress, props maker for the Wagon Wheel, and volunteer at the Chicago Museum of Natural History, connected me with Luke Kummer through her work in Chicago. Luke and I connected via Zoom and brainstormed how to discuss his first novel, 'The Blue Period,' with my Ivy Tech composition class. Ivy Tech and the Warsaw chancellor, Allyn Decker, have been very supportive in our efforts to expose students to new thinking and communication options," Benyousky said.
After Kummer speaks March 25, guests and students will be welcome to ask questions about Picasso, the book and Luke's writing process, Benyousky said.
Kummer said young writers are learning a lot in their early careers and there's a lot to learn about in regards to writing with empathy.
— Read the article on The Times-Union's website.
Luke Jerod Kummer to guest lecture class at Ivy Tech Warsaw
MARCH 16, 2021—Author Luke Jerod Kummer will be visiting an English 111 class at Ivy Tech Community College Warsaw on March 25th. Kummer recently published the historical novel The Blue Period, and will be speaking about how he comes up with, develops, and revises writing topics, using his recent novel as an example.
"It is an honor to be invited to chat with Ivy Tech students and guests about ways to bring more empathy into our writing," said Kummer. "What enticed me to draft The Blue Period, a novel about Picasso's turbulent youth in turn-of-the-century Barcelona and Paris, was how, in the wake of tragedy, his plaintive artworks were dedicated to revealing the suffering and humanity of the vulnerable people he witnessed around him. I look forward to discussing together ways we can also try to put ourselves in the places of our subjects and use our words to expand readers' capacity for empathy."
English 111 students write numerous papers and will benefit from learning how they can become better at developing and revising their own writing following his strategies. Students and guests will also learn context about the artist Picasso and how Kummer effectively researched for his accurate historical portrayals.
"We are grateful that Mr. Kummer has taken the time from his very busy schedule (he is in the middle of deadlines for his second novel) to chat with our class about writing and revision and how history intersects with the present," said Shari Benyousky, English Instructor at Ivy Tech Warsaw. "We are very lucky to have the opportunity to learn in this unique way that Zoom and Ivy Tech and the era of Covid have created."
Luke Jerod Kummer is a writer and an editor. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, New Republic, the Washingtonian, Bloomberg Businessweek, the Village Voice, Literary Hub and The Millions. Kummer's new historical novel, The Blue Period, reimagines the tragic events coloring the somber-toned palette that a young Pablo Picasso used for painting portraits of shared suffering and despair during the first years of the 20th century.
Public may register to join via Zoom: https://ivytech.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUvduyoqjMtGtSjdgSGazFSkA_0-KqhJkvT
Greek Translation of The Blue Period Published
NOVEMBER 16, 2020—Klidarithmos, one of the leading publishers of nonfiction and fiction titles in Greece, has published a translation of The Blue Period by Alexis Kalofolias into Greek. Launch announcements were made in the Fall Review of LIFO free-press magazine. This is the second translation of the work following the publication this summer of a version in Bulgarian.
Book Club Makes Guide to Reading The Blue Period and Visiting Philly Museum
NOVEMBER 3, 2019—The Novel Tourist, a website and book club that brings together bibliophiles and travel bugs, has created a helpful guide for anyone who wants to follow up The Blue Period with a trip to see the extensive Picasso collection at The Barnes Foundation. The organizers have shared a map of the Philadelphia art museum that will lead visitors to some of the painter's canvasses from his early Blue and Rose periods. There is also a thoughtful discussion of how events portrayed in the novel may have influenced the artist and these works.
— Learn more at The Novel Tourist's website.
Full Stop magazine publishes conversation between novelists Kummer and Hermann
SEPTEMBER 25, 2019 | By Full Stop
"Another challenge I set for myself is I knew people identify Picasso with Cubism, which changed his life and western art. And so I was trying to figure out how – even though his Cubism phase doesn't happen until several years after my book concludes – to give a nod to it within writing about this earlier period. I came up with an idea rooted in thinking that Cubism starts in the 20th Century's first decade, which is about a hundred years after the third-person omniscient voice with internal thoughts entered literature with Jane Austen – Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma – which was later taken up by Flaubert and Tolstoy, whose book Anna Karenina makes an appearance in The Blue Period.
That kind of writing didn't exist in western literature beforehand. Then, Cubism comes along with the same intent of not just portraying a single perspective but multiple perspectives in the visual arts.
I found this interesting and wondered if I could write in a vein that would have been popular at the time – something like what young Picasso's contemporaries were reading – while inviting a comparison of how the dawn of multiple perspectives in literature perhaps led painters to think about how to represent that as well. I also considered the Renaissance artists Picasso had studied, whose achievement was the invention of linear perspective. This too has a parallel in literature: shortly after Michelangelo's time, Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, the West's first novel. The point is, there's always been interplay between the visual arts and literature, and I wanted to bring that into my book. I tried in a couple ways."
— Read more of the in-depth discussion at Full Stop magazine's website.
Press Club to Host Book Rap About Fictional Portrait of Picasso
JULY 30, 2019 | By Naomi Weiss
National Press Club member Luke Jerod Kummer plans to discuss his debut novel, "The Blue Period," at a Book Rap in the Cosgrove Lounge on Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 6:30 p.m.
The event is free for Club members and their guests but registration is required. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kummer plans to sell books at the event. Please also reserve a copy when registering for the event.
In "The Blue Period," Kummer envisions the rarely-known bohemian life of young Pablo Picasso as a time of love, lust, death and despair.
"From rowdy Barcelona barrooms to the incandescent streets of turn-of-the-century Paris, Pablo Picasso experiences the sumptuous highs and seedy lows of bohemian life alongside his rebellious poet friend with a shadowy past, Carles Casagemas," according to a press release by Kummer's publisher.
"Lusciously written and deeply imaginative, Kummer's debut is an edgy, elegant reimagining of a period in Picasso's life that forever changed the art world," said Karin Tanabe, author of "The Gilded Years."
Kummer has worked as a reporter, editor and travel writer. His nonfiction pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, New York magazine, New Republic, the Washingtonian and the Village Voice.
— Read the full article on The National Press Club's website.
Press Club member writes first novel about Picasso's Blue Period
AUGUST 22, 2019 | By Naomi Weiss
Luke Jerod Kummer's curiosity for what makes a good story led to his discovering a vital part of Pablo Picasso's life that dramatically influenced the artist's work but was barely explored elsewhere, the author of "The Blue Period" told a National Press Club Book Rap on Tuesday, Aug. 20, in Cosgrove Lounge.
Picasso blamed himself for the death of sister and his friend Carles Casagemas, Kummer said. This resulted in "a radical flow of empathy" which influenced the artist's vision of humanity and the suffering of people who lived in his hometown of Malaga, Spain, and in Montmartre, France, where he went to paint.
Kummer, a Club member, took the discovery of Picasso's influence and imagined Picasso's life during his Blue Period, 1900-1904, to write his debut novel, "The Blue Period."
Picasso's works during his Blue Period exquisitely captured his subjects' emotions, body language and suffering through the artist's use of blue, black, dark greens and brown palates. Although the paintings are today among the most popular works by the artist, he had trouble selling them at the time. A slide show of these paintings was projected during the Book Rap.
Kummer said he was influenced by reading Patty Smith's "Just Kids" about her relationship with photographer Robert Maplethorpe.
Kummer is a reporter, editor and travel writer whose nonfiction work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, New York Magazine, New Republic and Village Voice. He was introduced by Joe Luchok, who moderated the event.
— Read the full article on The National Press Club's website.
The Blue Period chosen as an "Amazon First Read" for June 2019
JUNE 1, 2019—The Blue Period was selected to be a part of Amazon First Reads, a program offering early access to editors' top picks for soon-to-be-released titles, both Kindle versions and special advance hardcovers.
From the Editor:
"Behind every great piece of art is a story. Behind the early work of Pablo Picasso, there was a drama so tragic and intense, it's surprising that a novel like this has never been written.
In Luke Jerod Kummer's The Blue Period, we see the real-life story of how Picasso ventured to Paris as a young man and found himself entangled in a love triangle that nearly ruined him before inspiring his great period of artistic achievement.
I love how this novel gave me the experience of being in Paris at the turn of the twentieth century—before the city was the center of artistic expression, and long before Picasso's groundbreaking work in cubism began. In the novel, we come to understand and see the young artist, barely an adult, arrive in Paris from Barcelona and discover his potential. I was fascinated to learn that from that span of time emerged what art historians now call the Blue Period, thought by many to be a reference only to his palette but that also encompasses the early, dark mood that beset Picasso—until true love saved him at last, and led to the Rose Period that first brought him fame.
Luke Jerod Kummer managed to take what was once a few paragraphs in Picasso's biography and turn it into a wonderfully told coming-of-age novel. After reading this book, I'll never look at another Picasso painting the same way." — Carmen Johnson, Editor
The Blue Period reviewed by Booklist
MAY 24, 2019—"The early life of the world-renowned artist, Pablo Picasso, gets an historical fiction rendering from travel writer and journalist Kummer in his first novel. In rich, color-infused passages, young Picasso excels beyond the traditional art schools in Barcelona, falls in with a raucous group of creatives, including poet and artist Carles Casagemas, with whom he has a maudlin yet steadfast friendship, and, fatefully, has a painting accepted for the 1900 World Exposition in Paris. It is there that Pablo and his cohort Carles discover a bohemian life that exceeds their hitherto limited aspirations. It is also where the two meet and fall for a Parisian brunette named Germaine who models for them. What starts as friendship and scenes reminiscent of the classic Truffaut film Jules et Jim (1962), turns sour as Carles obsessively longs for Germaine while Pablo passionately acts on his desire for her. Kummer's descriptions of Paris at the turn of the century and the emotional turmoil within fame-destined Pablo create a quixotic tone that fans of lush biographical fiction will find especially alluring." — Booklist
Virtual Chat: "Practicing Writing With Empathy"
MARCH 25, 2021 10:00 AM EST
Hosted by Ivy Tech Community College and Professor Shari Benyousky, Luke Jerod Kummer visits Warsaw, IN via Zoom to discuss with students and guests how – whether drafting a novel, a piece of journalism, or a product manual – empathy is the key to writing. He will also answer questions about The Blue Period and publishing.
Register or invite friends:
Crystal Radio Sessions at KGB Bar
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2020, 7:00 PM-9:00 PM
Crystal Radio Sessions presents "a monthly reading series devoted to transmitting powerful literary voices," hosted by Christie Grotheim, Rachel Aydt and Ashley Mayne at KGB Bar. Featuring Vigel Chime, Sean Williamson, Luke Jerod Kummer and Wesley Brown.
85 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003
Novel Tourists Book Club presents: "Barnes Museum and The Blue Period"
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2019, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM
DETAILS FROM THE BOOK CLUB: "Let's pair up a visit to The Barnes Museum with a great historical fiction book, The Blue Period, by Luke Jerod Kummer. Kummer's novel details Picasso's life in his early years — specifically, what's become known as his Blue Period. During this time of his life, Picasso often focused on subjects living on the margins of society. The paintings all had a bluish cast."
THE LOCATION: Barnes Museum, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA
"The Barnes Foundation is a nonprofit cultural and educational institution that shares its unparalleled art collection with the public, organizes special exhibitions, and presents programming that fosters new ways of thinking about human creativity. We'll meet there to explore the amazing collection of art in the Barnes, including some of Picasso's work from the Blue Period."
Luke Jerod Kummer & Nellie Hermann in Conversation at Powerhouse Arena
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 28, 2019, 7:00-9:00PM
Please RSVP here