Ben Stroud’s story collection Byzantium will be published by Graywolf in July. The collection won the 2012 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Fiction Prize and was selected as a Publisher’s Weekly Best Summer Book for 2013. Ben’s stories have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, One Story, Electric Literature, Boston Review, and The American Scholar, among other places, and have been anthologized in New Stories from the South and Best American Mystery Stories. Originally from Texas, he holds a BA in English and History from the University of Texas at Austin and an MFA in Fiction and PhD in Twentieth-Century American Literature from the University of Michigan. He has received residencies from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and has taught literature and creative writing at universities in the US and Germany. Currently, Ben is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Toledo.
Andrea Lochen is an alumna of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan, where she also received the Hopwood Novel Award for a draft of The Repeat Year. She currently lives in suburban Milwaukee and teaches Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. Kirkus Reviews called The Repeat Year “a debut novel that offers a fascinating glimpse into one woman’s opportunity to rewrite her past and change her future” and “an engaging, satisfying read that explores friendship, love and who we really are when it truly matters.”
Winner of the Bakeless Prize for Fiction, an imaginative debut that ranges from Havana to Berlin
Ancient cities and fallen empires come to life in this masterful collection. In the Byzantine court, a noble with a crippled hand is called upon to ensure that a holy man poses no threat to the throne. On an island in Lake Michigan, a religious community crumbles after an ardent convert digs a little too deep. And the black detective Jackson Hieronymus Burke rises to fame and falls from favor in two stories that recount his origins in Havana and the height of his success in Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany. Ben Stroud’s historical reimaginings twist together with contemporary stories to reveal startling truths about human nature across the centuries. In his able hands,Byzantium makes us believe that these are accounts we haven’t heard yet. As the chronicler of Burke’s exploits muses, “After all, where does history exist, except in our imagination? Does that make it any less true?”
About the Author
Ben Stroud’s stories have appeared in Harper’s, One Story, Electric Literature, and Boston Review, among other magazines, and have been anthologized in New Stories from the South and Best American Mystery Stories. A native of Texas, he now lives in Ohio and teaches creative writing at the University of Toledo.
Praise for Byzantium: Stories…
Praise for Byzantium:
"Stroud's imaginative story collection . . . [leap-frogs] from Berlin to Havana to ancient cities and fallen empires." —Chicago Tribune
"Stroud writes convincingly in any time or mode, juggling heavily plotted stories of historical fiction that are cinematic in their sense of adventure and more traditional literary stories admirable for their restraint and close examination of intrapersonal conflicts. . . . This is an exciting and essential collection, unlike anything in recent memory, and a decidedly impressive debut." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Stroud's command over both contemporary and historical narratives is reminiscent of Jim Shepard's, though his sure and robust voice proves him to be a deeply compelling and original new storyteller." —Booklist
“Byzantium is both a collection of exciting stories, and of extraordinary journeys. Ben Stroud is a smart, versatile, sure-handed tour guide, whether he’s taking the reader to Germany, Havana, or Constantinople. In each story he builds a vivid, seamless world, and brings it memorably to life. This is an astonishing, transporting book.” —Caitlin Horrocks, author of This Is Not Your City
"Ben Stroud is a tremendous talent. The ten exquisitely wrought tales in Byzantium stretch through the ages and across the globe. From ancient Constantinople, to Havana in the height of the slave trade, to modern-day Wiesbaden, each story unfolds in unexpected ways, with great humor and skill, and then, when you least expect it, strikes at your heart." —Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief
“Let us praise the full-blooded sweep and majesty of Stroud’s imagination. Let us celebrate a writer of great bravery and artistry and deep feeling . . . Stroud’s Calvino-like deconstruction of narrative . . . turns the unlikely ingredients into a marvel of story-telling . . . Stroud is a magician.” —Randall Keenan, Bakeless Prize judge, from the Introduction
Everyone has days, weeks, even months they wish they could do over—but what about an entire year? After living through the worst twelve months of her life, intensive care nurse Olive Watson is given a second chance to relive her past and attempt to discover where she went wrong… After a year of hardships, including a messy breakup with her longtime boyfriend Phil, the prospect of her mother’s remarriage, and heartbreaking patient losses at the hospital, Olive is ready to start fresh. But when she wakes up in her ex-boyfriend’s bed on New Year’s Day 2011—a day she has already lived—Olive’s world is turned upside down. Shouldering a year of memories that no one else can recall, even Olive begins to question herself—until she discovers that she is not alone. Upon crossing paths with Sherry Witan, an experienced “repeater,” Olive learns that she has the chance to rewrite her future. Given the opportunity of a lifetime, Olive has to decide what she really wants. Should she make different choices, or accept her life as she knows it, flaws and all?
“An intriguing premise and some surprising twists make this an engaging, satisfying read that explores friendship, love and who we really are when it truly matters….A debut novel that offers a fascinating glimpse into one woman’s opportunity to rewrite her past and change her future.”—Kirkus Reviews