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Fall 2019 Archives - Red Hen Press

Under Nushagak Bluff

Against the backdrop of the rising commercial fishing industry in an Alaskan Native village, Under Nushagak Bluff is a powerful mid-century tale of women, love, loss, resilience, and the unexpected strength found in storytelling.

In 1939, everything changes for Anne Girl when outsider John Nelson grounds his sailboat on the shores, into Anne Girl’s skiff, and into her life during a rare storm in the Alaskan fishing village of Nushagak. When Anne Girl and her mother, Marulia, find their skiff flattened by John’s boat, Anne Girl decides she both hates and wants him. Thus begins a generational saga of strong, stubborn Yup’ik women living in a village that has been divided between the new and the old, the bluff side and the missionary side, the cannery side and the subsistence side.

ADVANCE PRAISE

“This novel brilliantly explores the lives of one bloodline of Alaskan women struggling to make a home for themselves in a small fishing community. They embrace the duel impulses of the natural world to sustain and ruin them by guiding each other through epic struggles to secure food, warmth, and love. They share the wonder of what the tides deliver, secrets of how to handle the men who work the cannery, and the value of stories that connect you to the past. Full of passionate, unforgettable characters, and told with poetic prose and dreamlike laments, Heavener announces her Alaska-sized talent to the world.”—Devin Murphy, author of national bestseller The Boat Runner and Tiny Americans

“Mia Heavener’s Under Nushagak Bluff shines like the first salmon of summer. An alluring and beautiful story of community and culture, Heavener delivers a tale that reveals the real heart of Alaska.”—Don Rearden, author of The Raven’s Gift, and the hit memoir Never Quit

A green background with a drawing of two green and red fish with a baby inside one of the stomachs of one of the fishes and dark green script that reads Under Nushagak Bluff a novel by Mia C. Heavener.

Mia Heavener

Publication Date: November 12, 2019

Genre/Imprint: Boreal Books, Fiction

$17.95 Tradepaper

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ISBN: 978-1-59709-809-0

The Rib Joint

In this collection of linked, lyrical essays, Julia Koets writes, “When you date in secret, the pressure is different. You’re weightless. You’re stuck in between jumping and landing. You exist in midair. Your bones start to thin.” Growing up in a small town in the South, Julia and her childhood best friend, Laura, know the church as well as they know each other’s bodies—the California-shaped scar on Julia’s right knee, the tapered thinness of Laura’s fingers, the circumference of each other’s ponytails. When Laura’s family moves away in middle school and Julia gets a crush on the new priest’s daughter at their church, Julia starts to more fully realize the consequences of being anything but straight in the South. After college, when Julia and her best friend Kate wait tables at a rib joint in Julia’s hometown, they are forced to face the price of the secrets they’ve kept—from their families, each other, and themselves.

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Engaging, poignant, and at times wryly humorous, this book explores gender and identity through the eyes of a sensitive and perceptive young woman growing up in the South. Julia Koets writes with vulnerability, warmth, and a lyrical style that pulls the reader straight through to the end.”—Kristen Iversen, author of Full Body Burden

A cream background with a graphic design in the center of ribs with flowers growing inside and black script that reads The Rib Joint a memoir in essays by Julia Koets.

Julia Koets ( Author Website )

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Genre/Imprint: Memoir, Red Hen Press

$17.95 Tradepaper

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ISBN: 978-1-59709-675-1

Pigs

In the tradition of Lord of the FliesPigs is an exquisitely wrought fable about the excesses of the contemporary world.

Four children live on an island that serves as the repository for all the world’s garbage. Trash arrives, the children sort it, and then they feed it to a herd of insatiable pigs: a perfect system. But when a barrel washes ashore with a boy inside, the children must decide whether he is more of the world’s detritus, meant to be fed to the pigs, or whether he is one of them. Written in exquisitely wrought prose, Pigs asks questions about community, environmental responsibility, and the possibility of innocence.

AWARDS

SHORTLISTED – 2020 Neukom Awards for Speculative Fiction
BRONZE – 2019 Foreword Literary Fiction

ADVANCE PRAISE

“A lyrical, enthralling, and dark-inflected allegory, equal parts Italo Calvino, Angela Carter, and Lord of the Flies.”—Jonathan Lethem, author of A Gambler’s Anatomy and The Feral Detective

“Powerful, metaphorical, as fantastical as it is true, Johanna Stoberock’s Pigs is a masterpiece. Stoberock scrutinizes mankind’s failure to tend to our planet, our children, and our fellow man, and the result is a terrifying, tremendous book, its darkness lit in unpredictable ways by campfires of compassion and hope. What a wise, searing novel for the twenty-first century.”—Sharma Shields, author of The Cassandra and The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac

Pigs looks unflinchingly at some of the scariest parts of our world—a changing climate, an ocean full of garbage, and us, the fragile animals. Yet within this, there is tremendous beauty and grace—Johanna Stoberock has written a kind of love song to survival, to life itself.”—Ramona Ausubel, author of Awayland and Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty

A blue background and a yellow graphic design of a large pig and pink script that reads Pigs a novel by Johanna Stoberock.

Johanna Stoberock ( Author Website )

Publication Date: October 1, 2019

Genre/Imprint: Fiction, Red Hen Press

$16.95 Tradepaper

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ISBN: 978-1-59709-044-5

Oldguy: Superhero—The Complete Collection

Disclaimer: Oldguy contains language that may be inappropriate for children. Reader discretion is advised.

Meet Oldguy: your regular aging superhero whose powers have dwindled over the years, and whose very mechanics are seriously fizzling. In seriocomic misadventures, Oldguy valiantly attempts to continue his former heroism in a somewhat wry version of Faulknerian endurance, defeating his enemies time and again—if not through superhuman abilities, then at least by “outliving the sons-a-bitches.” With its comic book–style illustrations, Oldguy inhabits a space all to itself—not strictly a poetry collection, not quite a graphic novel—a hybrid sure to visually and aurally delight.

ADVANCE PRAISE

“When has geezerhood been handled so appealingly? (Well, except for those movies where Ann-Margret is inexplicably cast as a senior citizen.) Oldguy may exit the Oldguy mobile creaking and farting, but comedian-con-simpatico Bill Trowbridge so ably superjuggles hijinks and empathy that, despite all the geriatric odds, a true American hero is born. Don’t know a ‘Packard’ from the ‘Oscar Mayer Wienermobile,’ or ‘Roundheads’ from ‘the Blob’? Then snap your trap shut, punk, and give a listen: Oldguy’s here to save your day.”—Albert Goldbarth, recipient of two National Book Critics Circle awards

Oldguy: Superhero—The Complete Collection is a banquet of dinner rolls, Jell-O, turkey sandwiches and moonlit ballrooms, Kung Fu and sarsaparilla, Artie Shaw, Moby Dick; one surprise after another, imaginative and beautifully crafted, with enough laughs and charm to make any guy or gal, old or young, roll in imagery to last forever! This collection should come with instructions on how to stop smiling! Dance through these remarkable poems, meet an enchanting group of characters, and fall fast in love with William Trowbridge as he takes you to the top ledge of the Chrysler Building. Get ready to jump off and land on two exuberant feet!”—Kim Dower, author of Sunbathing on Tyrone Power’s Grave

A graphic design of an old man dressed as a super hero with a snail at his feet and blue typography that reads Old Guy Superhero The Complete Collection poems by William Trowbridge.

William Trowbridge ( Author Website )

Publication Date: October 22, 2019

Genre/Imprint: Hybrid, Red Hen Press

$16.95 Tradepaper

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ISBN: 978-1-888996-42-5

Living Things

A kaleidoscopic portrait of a rural Southern town where tragedy is met with candles, hymns, and the urge to leave and never look back.

Black Creek, South Carolina: a small town in the swamps that convinces itself that nothing bad has ever happened and nothing bad ever will. Black Creek is the sort of place where young girls roam the streets free to imagine who they are and who they’ll become. Where women sell pies and plants at the courthouse square. Where the fire department rescues cats from the tops of electric poles. And what trouble there is, they’ll tell you, stays past the town limits, in the run-down house-turned-strip-club and Lake Darpo, where certain birds are going extinct. These eleven closely related portraits show that the real threats have long taken root. Black Creek is a place of poignancy and absurdity, love and loss, loneliness and the brief charges of connection. Its residents will do almost anything to protect what they think is theirs.

ADVANCE PRAISE

“I love the way that Landon Houle writes. She is a stunning painter of unforgettable images, and she creates characters that I can swear I’ve met before, that I’ve known my whole life. Living Things is just that—totally alive and as real as your own memories. This is a writer to watch.”—Dan Chaon, author of Ill Will

“The unforgettable characters in Living Things are trying their best, against the odds, to make their own good in a so-called nowhere town in rural South Carolina. With great empathy and the voice of a poet, Landon Houle puts this town and the lives lived there on the map. She has pointed her pen at a forgotten America and said: These people matter. Here are their stories.”—Nicholas Montemarano, author of The Senator’s Children

A grainy photograph of a potato chips bag thrown in the dirt in between leaves and white script that reads Living Things a novel by Landon Houle.

Landon Houle ( Author Website )

Publication Date: October 8, 2019

Genre/Imprint: Fiction, Red Hen Press

$16.95 Tradepaper

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ISBN: 978-1-59709-839-7

Like Wings, Your Hands

Kalina, born in Bulgaria and now living in Boston, has always been a spiritual seeker. Her fourteen-year-old son, Marko, who has spina bifida and is partially paralyzed, shares her curiosity about larger metaphysical questions, but also has his own unique perspective on life: Marko perceives numbers as having colors, shapes, and textures—and they’re linked to emotions: embarrassment, for example, is fourteen; satisfaction is sixty-seven.

Kalina is determined to respect her son’s dignity and privacy as he embarks on the new terrain of adolescence, complicated as it is by his continued physical dependence on her care. She has other issues to wrestle with as well, including coming to understand her own life choices and her strained relationship with her father. Meanwhile, Marko, already expert at deep meditation, discovers a technique that allows him to experience a sense of boundlessness and also gain surprising insights into himself, his mother, and the grandfather he’s never met.

AWARDS

FINALIST – 2019 Foreword Book Awards, LGBTQ+
FINALIST – 2019 Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ Fiction

ADVANCE PRAISE

“In her frank, clear prose, Earley moves through multiple places and characters with startling ease, building a world at once honest and graceful.”—Aimee Bender, author of The Color Master, a New York Times Notable Book

“A helixing of the various incapacities of our bodies, Like Wings, Your Hands embraces the courage of yearning and the hopeful escape of dreams. Elizabeth Earley is bold and real and unapologetically political and all the things every writer strives for—and profound, absolutely profound.”—Lily Hoang, author of Changing, a PEN Open Book Award recipient

“Elizabeth Earley has written a stunningly original novel—one that breaks ground as it breaks silences, one that thrums with insight and compassion and devastating beauty.”—Gayle Brandeis, author of The Book of Dead Birds, a Bellwether Prize recipient

A stary sky as the background with a design of a boy sitting in wheelchair that dissolves towards the bottom into math equations and blue scrip that reads Like Wings, Your Hands a novel by Elizabeth Earley.

Elizabeth Earley ( Author Website )

Publication Date: October 15, 2019

Genre/Imprint: Fiction, Red Hen Press

$17.95 Tradepaper

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ISBN: 978-1-59709-823-6

Fire Summer

You can go home again.

When twenty-three-year-old Maia Trieu, a curator’s assistant at the Museum of Folklore & Rocks in Little Saigon, Orange County, is offered a research grant to Vietnam for the summer of 1991, she cannot refuse. The grant’s sponsor has one stipulation: Maia is to contact her great-aunt to pass on plans to overthrow the current government. The expatriates did not anticipate that Maia would become involved with excursions in search of her mother or attract an entourage: an American traveler, a government agent, an Amerasian singer, and a cat.

Maia carries out what she believes is her filial role to her late father, a former ARVN soldier, by returning to their homeland to continue the fight for an independent Vietnam. Along the way, however, she meets a cast of characters—historical and fictional, living and dead—who propel her on a journey of self-discovery through which she begins to understand what it means to love.

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Like a strip of curtain between the dead and the living, Fire Summer is at once ephemeral and expansive. A haunting debut from a writer whose characters, lovingly described, pass not only through rivers and airports, but also despair and separation. We are ferried with them to the other side—one where the fractured are finally come home.” —Uzma Aslam Khan, author of Trespassing and Thinner Than Skin

“‘What is the shape of one’s life when one’s action is based on love?’ So asks a character in Thuy Da Lam’s lyrical novel, Fire Summer, a work that shows us the Vietnam beyond the war movies. Lam deftly explores the slippery interplay between heritage and identity, history and duty, ultimately proving that each of us is so much more than the places we come from. An important debut.”—Quan Barry, author of She Weeps Each Time You’re Born

A red and yellow overgrown field with people in colorful long sleve shirts walking through it and yellow script that reads Fire Summer a novel by Thuy Da Lam

Thuy Da Lam ( Author Website )

Publication Date: September 17, 2019

Genre/Imprint: Fiction, Red Hen Press

$16.95 Tradepaper

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ISBN: 978-1-59709-464-1

Banjo Grease

There is an inexplicable gravity in a small town. It can be read and enjoyed like a favorite book for most of its inhabitants. Comforting are its streets and institutions, its wedding and obituary announcements. Banjo Grease is about life and death in a mill town where at each epiphany and rite of passage, the narrator yields a ration of innocence. Characters portray class as a marker as strong as race and gender, and distrust that they will ever escape in their lifetimes. Faulkner uses the term “eager fatalism.” These stories’ cumulative effect asks: When exchanging naivete for worldliness, what is lost in denying one’s past?

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Dennis Must’s first collection of short stories is no ordinary debut but the mature work of a fully accomplished literary artist. Moreover, his originality, his deep irreverence, and his compassion for working-class men and women . . . Strivers and seekers of dreams, signal him as an inspired author in a new American grain—a visionary, poet, and realist . . .”—Tom Jenks, editor (with Raymond Carver) of American Short Story Masterpieces

“Dennis Must’s stunning collection Banjo Grease is just what one hopes for: a series of intriguing, interlocking stories whose cumulative force goes beyond the sum of its parts.”—Geoffrey Clark, author of Jackdog SummerWhat the Moon SaidRabbit Fever

“These stories float through the reader like frozen images. Each one fits into the others unevenly as jagged glass. This is the essence of great fiction at the end of the century; Ray Carver and Thom Jones plowed into some stupendous force that whips along with a tilted wild energy.”—Kate Gale, author of Water MoccasinsWhere Crows and Men Collide, and Selling the Hammock

A blue background with a black pencil drawing of a man sitting on the ground with food in front of him and white script that reads Banjo Grease by Dennis Must.

Dennis Must ( Author Website )

Publication Date: November 19, 2019

Genre/Imprint: Fiction, Red Hen Press

$16.95 Tradepaper

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ISBN: 978-1-59709-035-3

Against the Wind

A successful environmental lawyer is forced to take himself to task when he realizes that everything about his work has betrayed his core beliefs. A high school English teacher asks her former high school love to take up her environmental cause. A transgender adolescent male raised by his grandparents struggles to excel in a world hostile to his kind. A French-Canadian political science professor finds himself left with a choice between his cherished separatist cause and his marriage and family. An accomplished engineer is chronically unable to impress his more accomplished father sufficiently to be named head of the international wind technology company his father founded. The Quebec separatist party’s Minister of Natural Resources, a divorcée, finds herself caught between her French-Canadian lover and an unexpected English-Canadian suitor.

ADVANCE PRAISE

Against the Wind is a big old-fashioned novel with contemporary concerns: gender, adultery, wind energy, and business acquisitions. But at its heart, Jim Tilley’s debut novel is about the ageless concerns of love and loss and hope that we all share. “ —Ann Hood

“Politics—personal and environmental—form the colorful canvas upon which Jim Tilley paints Against the Wind, a novel that squarely faces the issues of today: the breakdown of families, the struggles to accept a transgender child, and the international policies and rivalries of global energy industries.” —Anne D. LeClaire, author of The Halo Effect and The Lavender Hour

“Poet Jim Tilley’s compulsively readable debut novel, Against the Wind, is a rumination on how the past stretches its long fingers into the present. Set in Canada and the U.S., the novel tells the story of Ralph, who is coming to terms with old rivalries and lost love. Told mostly from Ralph’s point of view, and touching on such topical issues as the environment (wind energy) and transgender parenting, this absorbing and tender new novel offers us a view into the male psyche and reminds us of the difficulty of being a man in a culture that judges us all too harshly.”—Cai Emmons, author of Weather Woman

A black background with a colorfully painted silhouette of a boy in the center and white script that reads Against the Wind a novel by Jim Tilley.

Jim Tilley ( Author Website )

Publication Date: September 24, 2019

Genre/Imprint: Fiction, Red Hen Press

$16.95 Tradepaper

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ISBN: 978-1-59709-835-9