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Michael Farris Smith is the award-winning author of Rivers and The Hands of Strangers. Rivers was named in numerous Best Books of the Year lists, and garnered the 2014 Mississippi Author Award for Fiction. His short fiction has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his essays have appeared in The New York Times, Catfish Alley, Writer’s Bone, and more. He lives in Columbus, Mississippi, with his wife and two daughters.
Author photo © Chris Jenkins
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | November 2017 Book of the Month In the hinterlands of America, a man completes his jail sentence for accidental murder and returns to his home town, where relatives of the boy he killed whilst drunk driving are set on revenge. The sad lives of people caught in a circle of despair is captured with poignant accuracy as well as the slippery slope that leads them there despite all their best intentions. A novel about the day to day life and travails of ordinary people eager for redemption or, at any rate, a chance at a normal life, this is both moving and gripping as the assorted characters reach out for a safety raft of sorts despite all the indignities circumstances heap on them and they struggle to retain dignity and principles. A harsh but beautiful thriller that has you cheering under your breath for its wounded, fallible protagonist throughout and a considerable achievement, with echoes of WINTER'S BONE in its celebration of the human spirit. And lest I make Farris Smith's novel sound too worthy, may I add it grips like a vice... ~ Maxim Jakubowski
'NICK is an exemplary novel. Smith delivers a moving, full-bodied depiction of a man who has been knocked loose from his moorings and is trying to claw back into his own life' - New York Times Critically acclaimed novelist Michael Farris Smith pulls Nick Carraway out of the shadows and into the spotlight in this exhilarating imagination of his life before The Great Gatsby Before Nick Carraway moved to West Egg and into Gatsby's world, he was at the centre of a very different story - one taking place along the trenches and deep within the tunnels of World War I. Floundering in the wake of the destruction he witnessed first-hand, Nick delays his return home, hoping to escape the questions he cannot answer about the horrors of war. Instead, he embarks on a transcontinental redemptive journey that takes him from a whirlwind Paris romance - doomed from the very beginning - to the dizzying frenzy of New Orleans, rife with its own flavour of debauchery and violence. An epic portrait of a truly singular era and a sweeping, romantic story of self-discovery, this rich and imaginative novel breathes new life into a character that many know only from the periphery. Charged with enough alcohol, heartbreak, and profound yearning to transfix even the heartiest of golden age scribes, NICK reveals the man behind the narrator who has captivated readers for decades. 'NICK is so pitch-perfect, so rich in character and action, so remarkable a combination of elegance and passion, so striking in felt originality that I am almost tempted to say - book gods forgive me - that The Great Gatsby will forever feel like NICK's splendid but somewhat paler sequel' - Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain 'Stylish, evocative, haunting and wholly original' - Chris Whitaker, author of We Begin at the End 'Anybody who believes that the war is over when the enemy surrenders and the troops come home needs to read Michael Farris Smith's masterful new novel NICK. Its stark, unvarnished truth will haunt you' - Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls 'A dark and often gripping story that imagines the narrator of The Great Gatsby in the years before that book began... The new Nick is a man fully realized, with a mind tormented by the war and by a first love that waned too fast to a fingernail moon of bitter memory. A compelling character study and a thoroughly unconventional prequel' - Kirkus Reviews 'Smith is emerging as one of the great chroniclers of America's dispossessed. A haunting and utterly compelling read' - Mail on Sunday on Blackwood 'Though Farris Smith has five novels under his belt, he is little known in Britain. That ought to change: let some Mississippian mayhem, murder and misery into your lives' - The Times on Blackwood
In this short story prequel to Michael Farris Smiths widely acclaimed novel Rivers (a Best Book of 2013 in BookRiot, Daily Candy, and Hudson Booksellers), a series of catastrophic hurricanes along the Gulf Coast prompts the government to institute The Line, a boundary between the coastal region and the rest of the country, effectively creating a lawless no-mans land without electricity, resources, or basic services. Those left behind include Aggie, a snake-handling preacher with a questionable past; Bub and Ava, who live in a FEMA trailer held down by cinderblocks; and Cohen, who refuses to evacuate and leave behind the graves of his late wife and child. As all four struggle to survive below The Line, their stories intersect with violent and unexpected consequences.
In the tradition of The Stranger and The Old Man and the Sea, this taut novella by critically acclaimed novelist Michael Farris Smith (Rivers, 2013) explores the human spirit and its capacity for faith and forgiveness in an imperfect world.What happens to a marriage when a child vanishes? Jon and Estelle walk the picturesque Paris streets, but are living through the cruelest of realtiesthe disappearance of their nine-year-old daughter Jennifer, abducted from the Muse DOrsay during a class field trip. Jon spends his day slugging through bus terminals and metro halls, posting flyers of his daughter, while Estelle has become a recluse, unwilling to leave the apartment in case the telephone rings. Their relationship suffers as the passing time chips away at the hope of Jennifers return. Then, a free-spirited artist enters their life as unexpectedly as Jennifer has left it, luring Jon down a reckless path as he searches desperately for courage in the smallest signs. If their daughter is ever returned to them, will Jon and Estelle both be there to welcome her home?