Monday, May 26, 2008

Black Flies graces the cover of this week's New York Times Sunday Book Review

Novelist Shannon Burke earned stunning reviews for his debut book, Safelight, and now he returns with the same minimalist intensity in this arresting follow-up.

Black Flies is the story of paramedic Ollie Cross and his first year on the job in mid-'90s New York. It is a ground's eye view of life on the streets: the shoot-outs, the bad cops, unhinged medics, the hopeless patients, the dark humor in bizarre circumstances, and one medic's struggle to balance his desire to help against his own growing callousness.

It is the story of lives that hang in the balance, and of a single job with a misdiagnosed newborn that sends Cross and his partner into a life-changing struggle between good and evil.

Already garnering praise, Black Flies graces this week's cover of the New York Times Sunday Book Review. Hailed as "searing and morally resonant", Liesl Schillinger embraces and applauds the powerful and gritty realism that marks Burke's work.

An excerpt from the New York Times Review:

"Be warned:... many of the most vivid scenes in "Black Flies" make for harrowing reading. Visceral and mercilessly detailed, they are not included for sensational purposes — not as an E.R. version of "war porn." Instead, Burke uses them as shock treatment for the conscience, like the paddles that resuscitate a 12-year-old girl who has been electrocuted. "It was the most eerie, unnatural thing I’d ever witnessed,"says the medic who saves her. "I watched death recede from her." For anyone who has flirted with fashionable jadedness or suffered disappointments that led to a sullen fascination with the darker side of human experience, Burke blows apart the pose."

978-1-59376-191-2 * Soft Skull Press * $16.50 Paper

Further praise...

"[R]aw and fascinating...Burke is a poet of trauma, and his expert, macabre portrayal takes its toll on the reader just as the job takes its toll on Cross." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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