Twelve Women in a Country Called America: Stories by Kelly Cherry


Twelve Women in a Country Called America: Stories by Kelly Cherry

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ISBN: 978-1-941209-19-6 (paperback)

ISBN: 978-1-941209-55-4 (hardcover)

9 x 6 paperback, 232 pages

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Kelly Cherry’s tenth work of fiction delivers twelve compelling stories about women of the American South. These are women struggling to find their way through the everyday workings of life while also navigating the maze of self. From a young woman’s nightmare piano lesson to an elderly woman’s luminous last breath, Twelve Women in a Country Called America takes readers on a journey sometimes dark, sometimes funny, and always enlightening.


Praise for Twelve Women in a Country Called America

These stories are thrilling to read. They are bold and exploratory, truthful, and unflinching. Kelly Cherry is a magnificent storyteller! 

Bobbie Ann Mason, author of In Country and The Girl in the Blue Beret

In these richly imagined stories, from New Orleans to Huntsville to Memphis to Richmond—all around the South and back again, women are working through their thwarted lives: afraid, defiant, longing, loving. Kelly Cherry’s heroines are dramatically different from each other—the mannerly arts administrator in Charleston, the foolish retiree in Richmond, the ambitious African-Italian-Cuban-Ojibway student in Tallahassee, the restless lesbian in rural Virginia, the jilted wife in Bon Secour, the stalked beauty queen in Jackson—but they are all coming to terms with the human condition in ways that reveal that condition to the reader. Funny, tender, surprising and exact, this is a stunning collection from a writer at the top of her form. 

Janet Burroway, author of Losing Tim: A Memoir

Twelve Women in a Country Called America is the latest instance of Kelly Cherry’s straight shooting about the often crooked kind we are. As before, she sees us, as the poet puts it, without feathers, gamely trying to plug the hole in the heart even as we scramble to harden the spongy spot in the head. Clearly, ours are lives wobbling out of round. Herein, women and men, southerners every one, cleave to lies that sustain and stories that end happily. Kelly Cherry knows better. Kelly Cherry, going long or short between margins, is a national treasure. 

Lee K. Abbott, author of All Things, All at Once: New & Selected Stories

"In her latest story collection, Twelve Women in a Country Called America, Kelly Cherry deftly captures the lives of a remarkably diverse group of women from the American south. Each woman we meet in these stories is distinctly drawn and presented with heart, wit, and wisdom. That Kelly Cherry, one of our most talented and prolific contemporary writers, can show us our world and the women who populate it in such moving and memorable ways may not be a surprise, but, page after page, it’s an absolute pleasure and a gift that readers interested in the human condition will long cherish.” 

Judith Claire Mitchell, author of A Reunion of Ghosts 

Kelly Cherry is a writer's writer, a master storyteller who writes about people we recognize in a style so easy we're surprised to find ourselves suddenly in deep, deep water. The past often collides with the present in these complicated families, almost-families, and relationships; many of the stories turn on those moments when we find out who we truly are, or who we will become. I found myself wondering, how does Kelly Cherry know so much? Deeply psychological yet compulsively readable, these stories are like real stories told to us by a trusted friend. 

Lee Smith, author of Guests on Earth: A Novel and The Last Girls

Cherry is a strong storyteller and each of her stories hits the benchmarks of finely crafted fiction: dynamic characters; meaty, detailed exposition; and plenty of tension and conflict to match the reader’s emotional concern for these women. 

—Jacqueline KharoufColorado Review


About the Author

Twelve Women in a Country Called America is Kelly Cherry’s tenth book of fiction. Her new book of poems, The Life and Death of Poetry, was published by LSU Press in 2013 and her new poetry chapbook, Vectors, by Parallel Press in December 2012. She was the first recipient of the Hanes Poetry Prize given by the Fellowship of Southern Writers for a body of work. Other awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bradley Major Achievement (Lifetime) Award, a USIS Speaker Award (The Philippines), a Distinguished Alumnus Award, three Wisconsin Arts Board fellowships, two WAB New Work awards, the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook Award for Distinguished Book of Stories in 1999 (2000), and selection as a Wisconsin Notable Author. In 2010, she was a Director’s Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In 2012, she received both the Taramuto Prize for a story and the Carole Weinstein Prize for Poetry, and in 2013 the L.E. Phillabaum Award for Poetry. Former Poet Laureate of Virginia, she is Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She and her husband live in Virginia. Further details appear on her Wikipedia page.

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